“It’s about: ‘O.K., the government is not going to take care of us. Business is not going to take care of us. We’ve got to take care of ourselves,’” said D. Taylor, president of the hospitality workers union, UNITE HERE, which has had thousands of members strike in the past two years, including at Marriott International. “It’s been bubbling up for some time. Now it’s come up to the surface.”
In the airline industry, workers who made numerous concessions amid a wave of post-9/11 corporate restructurings complain that they continue to struggle under austerity even as the airlines post outsize profits.
“They got all these employees to agree to terms within the shadow of bankruptcy court, then they created these megamergers and are making billions,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants.
While airline workers, unlike most private-sector workers, must receive permission from the government before they can strike, they have repeatedly demonstrated their anger. Thousands of airline catering workers, many of whom make under $12 per hour, voted to strike this year, pending the assent of a federal mediation board. Airline mechanics, including at Southwest Airlines, have won raises after effectively gumming up the operations of their employers: The mechanics significantly increased the number of low-grade maintenance problems they identified, leading to widespread flight delays and cancellations. (The mechanics denied that this was their intention.)
Teachers have expressed frustration that their districts were slow to reverse the spending cuts that followed the economic crisis a decade ago, even as state and local budgets have recovered.
“When the recession hit, teachers kind of buckled down. We said: ‘We get it. Everybody has got to pull their weight,’” said Noah Karvelis, who helped organize last year’s teacher walkouts in Arizona that forced lawmakers to raise teacher salaries and partially restore education funding. “But 10 years later, the state’s economy is back, we’re doing really well, and still the cuts are there. It was a huge, huge thing for us.”