Wave of wildcats

Submitted by AWL on 13 October, 2020 - 3:09 Author: Sacha Ismail
Strike in US

Since the start of March there have been over 1,000 strikes in the US, many related to the Covid-19 crisis and some to the Black Lives Matter struggle. Most are wildcat strikes, without formal vote or official union endorsement. In some cases they have taken place in workplaces where there is no union.

The crowd-funded website Payday Report has put together a map tracking these strike. It argues that its tracker probably underestimates the actual numbers.

The strikes, concentrated in the Eastern half of the US and on the West Coast, have taken place in industries and workplaces as diverse as the Detroit auto industry, Pittsburgh sanitation, chicken-processing in Kathleen (Georgia), iron works in Bath (Maine), grocery workers in Memphis, Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Ireland and bar workers in Portland.

These developments have been widely noted and discussed among left-wing labour activists in the US. There is debate about the extent to which all the actions involved constitute strikes.

It is also worth noting that the number of actions has tailed off in the second half of the year, and that most of them are small. Unsurprisingly, figures for big strikes have declined sharply in 2020.

These struggles have lessons for workers in Britain. For a useful discussion of some of the issues, including the vital importance of workplace direct action in the pandemic and the need to take over and transform trade unions, see this article by US socialist Dan La Botz.

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