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Here’s why one expert says you’re hearing about new strikes every week

As Unifor bargains towards a midnight strike deadline for Canadian autoworkers, hundreds of their American counterparts spend a fourth day on picket lines.

This, as Ontario elementary school teachers begin weeks of phased strike votes, Hollywood writers and actors remain off the job and the memory of the months-long Windsor Salt strike is still fresh.

For many it’s the most they’ve seen the word “strike” and “union” in a long time – but Rafael Gomez, a professor of employment relations at the University of Toronto, says he’s not surprised.

“It's not coincidental that it coincides with a period of high inflation,” he says.

Gomez says this season of strikes hasn’t hit the peak seen in previous periods of economic stress, but that the trend is there.

“It's been a while since labour has been taking the initiative in terms of strike activity, in terms of demanding for management certain concessions,” he says.

On top of sky-high cost of living, Gomez says the landscape this side of the pandemic has given way to an amount of unrest – with some unions unable to bargain at COVID-19’s peak.

He also says, in terms of those autoworkers in the United States, vocal government support.

“The Biden administration has said, we got your back,” says Gomez.

“So there seems to be a more supportive environment, at least at the federal level, towards unions, which has been absent for a long time.

“It seems like labor feels emboldened at this moment.”

Among the UAW union’s asks, a 36 per cent raise for it’s members over the duration of their four-year contract.

Ford, GM and Stellantis are offering about 20 per cent.

Ford President & CEO Jim Farley pushed back against the union’s demands.

"Negotiating isn't saying, here's a choice: pay everyone what I asked and you can go bankrupt,” Farley told CNN Thursday.

“That's not a choice. That's not negotiating."

In Canada, Unifor President Lana Payne has said a new contract needs to ensure workers get their “fair share” of soaring profits.

The union has targeted Ford off the bat, with 5,680 members employed by the company.

“As the deadline approaches, Unifor members at Ford Motor Company are advised to be prepared for all scenarios, including strike action,” Lana Payne, Unifor national president, said in a statement on the union’s website. Top Stories

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