Strike Resurgence as Social Media Gives Rise to New Forms of Employee Voice

February 15, 2019

After hitting a record low in 2009, the number of major strikes increased to its highest level in 11 years, as more than 20,000 Google workers worldwide walked off the job in an ad hoc social media-driven protest over how the company was handling sexual harassment claims against top managers.

The total number of workers who participated, about 485,000, was the highest since 1986, when 533,000 workers walked out.

Traditional strikes focused on health care, hotels, and teacher pay, with the underlying factors being an improving economy and the corporate tax cut.

New wave or blip?  Successful strikes can breed other strikes, but with the 2020 election likely to consume significant union resources, strike activity could return to its previous lows.  Yet, as demonstrated by the Google walk-out, union involvement may not always be a factor.