The number of workers
on strike during 2018 and 2019 (so far) has reached levels last seen in the 1980s. The Bureau of Labor Statistics
reported that in 2018, almost 500,000 workers were on strike, a level last seen in 1986. As of August 2019, more than 350,000 workers had been or currently were on strike.
The 50,000 workers currently striking at General Motors facilities across the nation for the fourth day in a row will have still to be added to this tally and will bring the count to around 400,000 for 2019. The employees represented by their union, United Auto Workers, walked out to protest the planned closures of four facilities, among other grievances. GM and union representatives have been negotiating new contracts since July and talks are pretty much stalled by now.
Currently, GM has offered US$7 billion in investments, to hold off on one closure and to open another facility in the U.S.
While the number of striking workers in 2018 was the highest in 23 years, they only went of on strike for a cumulative 2.8 million workdays. In 2003 and 2004, those numbers were above 4 million and 3 million, respectively. In those years, 70,000 supermarket employees organized in the United Food and Commercial Workers union went on strike for over four months (November to February) in California. In the year 2000, American workers even went on strike for a cumulative 20 million workdays. Back then, the Screen Actors Guild and Verizon workers’ strikes drove up the numbers.