ANALYSIS: ‘Striketober’-Fueled Q4 capped a huge year for walkouts


Triggered by a series of high-profile walkouts in October, the fourth quarter of 2021 ended as the busiest quarter on U.S. picket lines in more than a decade. But even if “Striketober” – as the month has been widely dubbed – is over, labor relations lawyers would do well to see it not as a one-time phenomenon, but as the continuation of a trend of unrest that is building up. has been developing since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and the global economic downturn. And it shows no signs of slowing down.

Labor data from Bloomberg Law shows unions launched 58 strikes in the last three months of the year, the highest quarterly total since 64 strikes were called in the second quarter of 2010. The increase brings the total final strikes from 2021 to 169, more than any year since 2012. .

Headline-grabbing strikes in October at Deere & Co. (10,100 workers) and Kellogg Co. (1,400 workers), among others, contributed to the fourth-quarter resurgence of manufacturing walkouts. Of the total of 50 strikes in the manufacturing sector, a decade high, which began in 2021, 18 took place in the fourth quarter.

The truth is that the picketing power of the unions, both inside and outside the plant, grew steadily stronger throughout what became known as the Great Resignation. The total number of strikes has increased or remained stable in every quarter since the second quarter of 2020, to the point that the unions are not only regaining their pre-pandemic momentum, they are exceeding it.

This trend holds exciting potential for a labor movement that continues to call for strikes well below historic levels. (The total number of work stoppages reached 200 in 2007, 400 in 2000 and 800 in 1990.)

And it’s a race that the unions will want to pursue long after “Striketober” is forgotten.

After all, October’s total of 21 strikes didn’t even make it the best month of the year: it would be November, with 25.

Bloomberg Law subscribers can access, search and run reports from the work stoppage database using our Work Plus: Unionization and Bargaining Data Resource.

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