Striketober and The Bigger Discussion of Labor Rights

Striketober+and+The+Bigger+Discussion+of+Labor+Rights

Lillian Eschweiler

As of late, many workers are going on strike, from healthcare workers to writers in Hollywood, what is now being labeled “striketober,” could be the catalyst for mass labor strikes in the U.S and finally a discussion of worker rights. 

As of Oct. 12, 2021, more than 24,000 employees from Kaiser Permanente in Oregon and California, have been approved for a strike, threatening to walk out if they do not receive better pay and better working conditions that have been getting increasingly more strained since the pandemic started.

On Oct. 15, 2021, about 10,000 employees from 14 factories of Farmers and Deere Co. went on strike fighting for higher pay and better health benefits.

And on Oct. 18, 2021, over 60,000 members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), planned to go on strike, with the objective of getting higher wages, better working hours, and safer conditions in the workplace. Had this strike not been avoided, this would have been the IATSE’s first strike in the 128 years of the union’s existence.  

These strikes are starting to be thought of as the catalyst for mass strikes of workers throughout the United States, many more labor unions and organizations have planned to go on strike this October, according to The Guardian: “Several other large groups of workers have voted to authorize strikes around the US while continuing new union contract negotiations, such as 2,000 Frontier Communications workers in California, transit workers in Beaumont, Texas, and Akron, Ohio, about 450 public works employees in Minneapolis, Minnesota, dining workers at Northwestern University, and hundreds of group home workers in Connecticut.”

When it comes to “Striketober ”, many were concerned about what this could mean for production, if there are no workers, there’s no production. In an interview done by NBC News with the Senior Vice president of a farm writes; “‘It’s got us worried for sure,’ said Eric Hopkins, the senior vice president of Hundley Farms, which boasts 20,000 acres of mostly vegetables in central Florida. ‘They’re already low on inventory and parts right now. A strike is only going to exacerbate things, make them worse. If it lasts for a while, not only will they not have new tractors, but when you have a breakdown and there are no parts, your tractor is just going to sit there not being able to harvest or plant a crop.’

In Hopkins’s statement, the issue at hand is completely ignored. These workers are not being given fair compensation, for the work they are doing and the conditions they are working in. But, Hopkins represents a greater trend among the reaction to “Striketober;” whether or not it affects the means of production, it seems completely irrelevant when talking about the rights of workers. 

Worker exploitation is not an uncommon thing, it’s been around in America as long as industrialism has. But ultimately we have to ask, why does this keep happening? How come employers are so easily able to exploit their workers, until the point where the workers feel like they need to unionize, just to feel protected.