As UPS, steel and telecom companies demand wage freezes
Workers in US face growing class battles
30 July 2018
A major conflict is brewing between workers and corporations in the United States, with employers resisting demands for any significant pay raises despite soaring profits and near record stock buybacks and dividend payouts for top executives and wealthy investors.
Labor agreements have expired or will expire over the next several days and weeks for hundreds of thousands of workers at United Parcel Service (UPS), the US Postal Service, and in the steel, telecom and entertainment industries. At the same time, teachers will be returning to their classrooms under conditions in which none of the issues that sparked strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona and other states have been resolved. New battles are looming involving educators in Los Angeles and Oakland, California, and other urban centers.
In each case, employers are not only refusing to relent on wages, they are doubling down and demanding new givebacks on healthcare, pensions and work rules. At the same time, corporate America, with the full assistance of the unions, is accelerating its drive to purge higher-paid “legacy” workers and transform their workforces into low-paid temps and part-time laborers without any rights.
For decades, the unions have effectively banned strikes, particularly in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. In 2017, major work stoppages in the US fell to seven, the second lowest level since records began in 1947, while in the United Kingdom they fell to the lowest level since the 1890s. This has allowed a historic restructuring of class relations, with labor’s share of nonfarm national income in the US falling from 66.4 percent in 2000 to 58.9…