National strike threats loom as unions become more encouraged

Unions and organizers are feeling stronger as a result of the tight labor market, and are taking advantage of labor shortages to conquer new ground in large companies, despite a general decline in union membership.

While Amazon warehouse workers and Starbucks baristas made headlines early due to unions, the incumbent big guns threaten nationwide strikes that could wreak untold damage to the already fragile supply chain and wider economy.

BNSF Freight Train

Major unions representing railway workers are threatening strikes if railway companies do not agree to their demands for better working conditions by midnight Friday. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File/AP Newsroom)

The most immediate threat may be just a day away. Major unions representing railway workers are threatening strikes if railway companies do not agree to their demands for better working conditions by midnight Friday.

According to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), a shutdown would be absolutely devastating to the economy, costing an estimated $2 billion a day and straining an already fragile supply chain, harming businesses and consumers alike.

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Whether or not there is a track closure, a new trade union struggle is brewing that could also have serious consequences for the economy.

The Teamsters have already started rattling the United Parcel Service with threats of a strike ahead of next year’s contract negotiations.

A UPS truck

The Teamsters union that represents UPS employees has threatened to go on strike next year if the shipping giant doesn’t agree to new contract terms. (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images/Getty Images)

“Our union is determined to secure the best contract for UPS members and to reset industry wage and benefits standards by August 1, 2023. We will not extend negotiations for another day. We will either signed agreement will be on the doorstep that day or on the doorstep,” Teamsters chairman Sean O’Brien said in a statement kicking off the union’s contract battle last month.

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If employees of the world’s largest parcel carrier resign, it would be the largest strike in US history and affect nearly every household in the US, according to a CBS News report.

Neither railroad workers nor UPS drivers have struck since the 1990s. But both are now flexing their muscles in the tight post-COVID job market with support from the Biden administration.

Trucks in the Port of Los Angeles

Labor unions were accused of contributing to the disastrous blockades that took place in several US ports last year. (Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Several experts warned last year that an increase in union strikes, regulations and charity deals would likely exacerbate the supply chain crisis as large workers try to capitalize on ongoing staff shortages. At the time, labor contracts were blamed for contributing to the disastrous blockades that occurred at several US ports.

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“The union officials will be more aggressive because the National Labor Relations Board is under control, the Department of Labor under control, the Department of Justice under control and you have a president — if it comes back to the ports — who probably won’t exercise executive power and Taft-Hartley will implement,” Mark Mix, president of National Right to Work, told FOX Business. “So I think it has encouraged union officials.”

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