From the impending UPS strike, which will be one of the most devastating in recent history, to the shutdown of the film and television industry, America is experiencing what some are calling a “hot working summer.”
The term was coined by union leaders in California, which has been the epicenter of a strike that has broken out across the country and could disrupt the delivery of millions of packages as early as next month. While strikes can have an effect, the unions now enjoy widespread public support, and Gallup has achieved its highest approval rating in more than half a century.
President Biden has also positioned himself as the most pro-abortionist president in history. On Sunday, Politico reported that union leaders urged the president not to intervene in various negotiations, and members of the administration said he planned to do so unless both sides demanded intervention.
Biden was heavily criticized last year for blowing up striking railroad workers and is currently at odds with the United Auto Workers over directing EV funding to “right to work” states, making unionization more difficult.
Potentially Historic UPS Strike
If an agreement between UPS and the Teamsters union, representing 340,000 UPS employees, is not reached by the end of the month, workers are poised to walk out of what one study predicts could be the most costly strike in at least a century.
The company processes about a quarter of all packages delivered daily in the United States, and even a short stoppage of work will cost the economy billions of dollars. The union’s demands have focused on higher wages, especially for part-time workers, and safer working conditions for delivery drivers as they have to deal with intense heat.
UPS profits nearly tripled from pre-pandemic levels, with more than $8 billion paid out to shareholders in 2022 in share buybacks and dividends.
A whopping 97% of the union voted in June to sanction the strike, and talks broke down between the two sides on 5 July. Pilots who operate the company’s air transport and are part of another union said they would also quit their jobs in solidarity.
With the deadline approaching and workers preparing to strike – truck drivers have held practice pickets for months and urged workers to save up in anticipation of a possible shutdown – UPS said last week it would return to the negotiating table with a better offer.
“We are ready to increase our industry-leading wages and benefits, but we need to work quickly to complete a fair deal that will provide confidence to our customers, our employees and businesses across the country,” the company said in a statement.
Hollywood closes down
While Barbie and Oppenheimer have become one of the highest-grossing weekends in history, major film and television productions are closed as writers’ and actors’ unions unite for the first time since 1960.
The Writers Guild of America has been picketing since May, and the Screen Actors Guild joined earlier this month. In addition, thousands of hotel workers are on strike in California, many of whom cannot afford to live close to where they work.
The demands of both Hollywood unions center around residual payments from streaming services and concerns about studios using artificial intelligence to replace human writers and actors. While many of the strikers are financially prosperous top-list actors, the union has more than 160,000 members, including those who are struggling to get the $26,000 a year earnings needed to qualify for health insurance.
Disney CEO Bob Iger called the union’s demands “disturbing” and said the striking workers were not “realistic”. Fran Drescher, president of SAG-AFTRA and former sitcom star, criticized the executive for his comments last week during a live interview with Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
“He’s stuck with it so much that you won’t notice that none of the other CEOs open their mouths,” Drescher said. “Here he is sitting in his designer clothes and just got on his private jet at the billionaire camp telling us we are unrealistic when he makes $78,000 a day. How do you feel about such a deaf person? Are you an ignoramus? I don’t understand.”
Drescher has consistently linked the high-profile actors’ strike to the broader labor movement — last week the nation’s largest nurses’ union announced its support — and quoted Frederick Douglass in an interview: “Power gives nothing away without demand. She has never given up and never will.”
SAG-AFTRA management threatened that it was ready to strike in the new year if needed.
The studios are reportedly considering postponing some of the year’s most anticipated releases, including the Dune and Aquaman sequels, and have already pushed back Zendaya’s Challengers project from August to April 2024 as the striking cast isn’t pushing big studio projects.