Just before Christmas 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order, effectively blocking what would have been a nationwide railroad strike right at one of the busiest economic periods of the year. The union was fighting for paid sick days in addition to better compensation in return for the increased amount of labor on workers caused by employee cuts.
While the United States has so far managed to avoid these protests, a similar strike has been occurring in the recent months in the United Kingdom, where almost a month of international striking took place as a call for increased railroad worker pay. On top of that, “40,000 junior doctors, who form the backbone of hospital care, are due to walk out across England for three days starting [March 13]”(Al Jazeera), adding further strain to the already disrupted UK.
In Paris, piles of trash line the streets as refuse collectors have been striking for over a week for better pension and retirement plans for a demographic where “life expectancy for the garbage workers is 12-17 years below the average for the country as a whole”. (France 24) The strike has been quite effective in showing the necessity for workers we often overlook, particularly the ones who perform the difficult tasks we take for granted.
In Orange County, we had our own student worker strike not too long ago that ground the University of California system to a halt. The growing trend of worker unionization is one to pay attention to as it has begun picking up in major cities all across the globe.
Written by Program Management Intern, Cindy Tse