By Steven Greenhouse, NY Times
Successful strikes beget more strikes. When nearly 50,000 General Motors workers walked out at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, it was just the latest in the largest burst of strikes in decades. Last year’s victorious teachers’ strike in West Virginia was the initial spark, helping inspire statewide walkouts in Oklahoma and Arizona as well as strikes in Kentucky, Colorado and Los Angeles.
The G.M. strikers could taste labor’s newfound successes and momentum.
The teachers’ unions felt unusually robust public support, as parents and students marched with them. Union leaders and union members felt a new boldness from the surge of good will. This helped inspire a strike last fall by 7,700 Marriott workers in eight cities, and those workers trumpeted a message that resonated far beyond their industry: that their pay increases were not nearly keeping up with soaring housing costs, so they could not survive on one job.
The hotel workers’ success in turn helped inspire the strike by 30,000 Stop & Shop workers in New England in April. Union leaders there were surprised by the deep community support the grocery workers received — supermarket cashiers have never been as beloved as public-school teachers. Politicians stepped up, too. Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren marched alongside them. The G.M. strikers are no doubt counting on similar political backing.