Northeast Ohio strikes may not result in substantial change


Threats of pro-jobs actions this week in northeast Ohio raise questions about whether the region could see more social unrest happening across the country.

Unions demand higher wages and better working conditions, but experts worry the chances of substantial change are minimal.

Akron Metro RTA employees are threatening to leave work on Thursday. In Ashtabula County, the Geneva teachers’ union authorized a 10-day strike notice.

John Russo is the visiting scholar at Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University. He fears these strikes breaking out across the country will garner the kind of power needed to win demands, even after the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people think about essential workers.

“But if it’s only temporary and people were very nice to workers and essential workers during the pandemic, and now they want to forget about it, then things might not be so good,” Russo said.

He says labor laws in the United States make it nearly impossible for unions to improve conditions, but he says there is a chance that some of these strikes could lead to better wages and benefits.

Although the country is seeing an increase in strikes, Russo doesn’t think this will be the new normal.

Russo on Federal Labor Laws

“I don’t think that’s necessarily going to give the union organizing a boost, okay? And the reason is not because of the unions, is that the law is so bad. Labor law in America is the worst law of any industrialized country, ”he said.

Russo believes some employers will bend to the will of unions and offer better wages and benefits, while others will turn to new technologies that reduce the need for workers.


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