By Mrinalika Roy
(Reuters) - A tight U.S. labor market, the expiry of union contracts and high living costs have led to tough negotiations for pay hikes and benefits from workers and triggered strikes and protests across industries.
Nearly 309,700 workers have been involved in work stoppages and strikes through August this year, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, putting 2023 on track to become the busiest year for strikes since 2019.
Here are some sectors and companies that faced tough negotiations in 2023:
Hollywood is experiencing its first dual work stoppage of writers and actors in 63 years, halting productions across the industry and costing the California economy billions of dollars. The strike is over compensation, staffing and residual payments among other issues.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) union last week launched simultaneous strikes against Ford, General Motors and Chrysler parent Stellantis over pay and benefits, initially targeting one U.S. assembly plant at each company.
The union on Friday announced it would expand its strikes against GM and Stellantis and target their distribution centers, with UAW President Shawn Fain saying the expansion would turn the strike into a nationwide event.
However, the union said it had made real progress in talks with Ford.
Teamsters union workers at United Parcel Service
ratified a new five-year contract in August, a deal that raises pay, eliminates a two-tier wage system for drivers, provides another paid holiday and ends forced overtime.
FedEx pilots have been involved in a stand-off with the parcel delivery firm over wages and legacy pensions. Pilots rejected a tentative deal in July and negotiations are expected to restart.
AIRLINES & AEROSPACE FIRMS
Pilots at several airlines including American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines Holdings, Spirit Airlines, Jetblue Airways negotiated new job contracts this year.
Members of some unions like the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association have voted to authorize a strike if a new contract is not reached.
Spirit AeroSystems negotiated a new contract to end a strike that led to a week-long work stoppage at its plant in Wichita, Kansas.
U.S. steel producer Cleveland-Cliffs Inc has reached a tentative agreement with the United Steelworkers union on a new three-year labor agreement for its Northshore mining operations.
U.S. Steel, which is reviewing multiple proposals ranging from partial acquisition to an entire buyout, is embroiled in a tussle with the United Steel Workers union. The company's unionized workers say they essentially have the power to veto any transaction they do not approve of.
CONSUMER & RETAIL
More than 3,000 workers at more than 150 Starbucks stores in the U.S. held strikes in June, following claims the company had banned Pride Month decorations at some of its cafes.
Thousands of Los Angeles-area hotel staffers went on a three-day strike in July over improved wages, benefits and working conditions. Union leaders representing the workers have threatened further walkouts.
More than 7,000 nurses went on a three-day strike in New York City over staffing levels and pay hikes in January.
Unions representing cannabis workers have also increased pressure on companies in the sector this year.
Workers at Green Thumb Industries' Chicago-area RISE dispensaries went on a 13-day unfair labor practices (ULP) strike in April, which was the longest ULP strike at a cannabis retailer in U.S. history.
Labor unions secured new contract agreements at multistate operator-owned cannabis dispensaries in Illinois and in New Jersey in July.
Unionized workers at Phillips 66's refinery in Roxana, Illinois, ratified a contract with the refiner in late-stage negotiations, averting a potential strike.
The union had been in talks with the refiner since summer, when it rejected a company proposal and sought additional benefits for holiday and vacation hours and pay, among other improvements.
(Reporting by Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Shounak Dasgupta and Anil D'Silva)