The Chicago teacher’s strike is over. It worked. The Verizon strike is over. It worked. Strikes work. Workers should have them more often.
When I say that strikes work, I don’t mean that unions get each and every last thing they ask for. That’s an unrealistic goal in any negotiation. I mean that strikes allow unions to get things that they would not get without a strike. This is primarily because a strike adds a very powerful stakeholder to the outcome of the negotiations: the public. When negotiations involve only workers and management, management is often able to simply say “fuck off.” Management can wait them out—workers will run out of money and start starving long before their managers do. If managements feels that they can save money in the long term by telling workers to fuck off with their contract demands, they will do it, even if it means taking a financial hit in the short term. This is the cold logic of capitalism. Absent any direct incentive, management will always take a dollar out of workers’ pockets and put it into their own, if they can.