Fixed-term strikes — such as the three-day strike of 15,000 nurses in mid-September — protect workers’ interests and impose financial and reputational costs on employers, suggesting confrontational tactics could help unions counter rising employer power, according to the new Cornell University ILR School Research.
“Retooling Militancy: Labor Revitalization and Fixed-duration Strikes,” published Sept. 8 in the British Journal of Industrial RelationsWritten by doctoral student Johnnie Kallas, it follows the rise of militant leadership at the California Nurses Association in the mid-1990s and the strategic adjustment of the strike.
Kallas investigated 10 fixed-term strikes by California nurses between 2011 and 2015. Most strikes lasted one day. Three dozen interviews and other research led Kallas, who was the union organizer from 2016 to 2017, to determine that militant leadership and personnel resulted in the approval of the fixed-term strike.
The fixed-term strikes by thousands of nurses made for a more militant membership and a more militant organization as it developed a vision of social justice while resisting nearly 100 concessions proposed at the negotiating table and laying the groundwork for bigger pay increases in next contracts, he said.
The fixed-term strike “is a critical part of the labor revitalization and union strategy to resist both individual hospital employers and the wider private health care system in the United States,” he wrote.
U.S. unions and labor organizations representing teachers, fast-food workers and others are reforming the strike to confront the rising power of employers and revitalize the labor movement, Kallas said. He is director of the ILR Labor Action Tracker, which recorded 545 labor actions at 803 locations in the US between January 1 and September 29. declined sharply since the 1980s.
Fixed-term strikes, Kallas wrote, cause economic and reputational costs for employers. For example, the hospitals affected by the nurses’ strikes could not close; they were forced to hire temporary nurses with expensive allowances. The unionized nurses did not abandon the patients; they went back to work after the strike.
The drawbacks of fixed-term strikes are that they may not force a settlement, Kallas said, but they can be a very effective tool for “protecting nurses’ economic interests and advancing their role as patient care advocates while still retaining financial resources.” and impose reputation costs on employers.”
Unions fight for better wages and conditions for workers, but they can also benefit employers
John Kallas, Retooling militancy: Labor revitalization and fixed-duration strikes, British Journal of Industrial Relations (2022). DOI: 10.1111/bjir.12709
Quote: Fixed-term strikes could revive labor (2022, October 5) retrieved October 5, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-10-fixed-duration-revitalize-labor.html
This document is copyrighted. Other than fair dealing for personal study or research, nothing may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for informational purposes only.