In many ways, the power of the labor movement was put on full display in 2023. An intersection of workers – writers and actors to autoworkers and nurses – demanded a fair return on the profits they create, the freedom to organize in the workplace, and a voice in the future of the clean energy revolution. Nearly half a million workers went on strike, and for the first time in decades, the majority of the American public had their backs.
Throughout the year, Jobs With Justice and our network were dedicated to showing up with these workers in solidarity. We launched The Solidarity Hub to establish a one-stop shop to track major contract fights, provide ways community supporters could take action, and publish resources for organizing workers. When the Teamsters began negotiating a contract with UPS and the United Auto Workers began prepping for a historic fight with the Big Three automakers, the JWJ network was ready to mobilize.
From Portland to New York and Michigan to Florida, Jobs With Justice coalition leaders joined picket lines, collected supplies, and canvassed neighborhoods. Just days before the Teamsters announced an industry-setting contract at UPS, we partnered with More Perfect Union, Teamsters Democratic Union, Democratic Socialists of America, and JWJ coalitions in Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York to deliver to UPS branch managers over 80,000 petitions of support signed by members of the community.
As we celebrated the UPS victory, the JWJ network was already preparing to support over 140,000 autoworkers in their negotiations with Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis. On September 14, UAW announced they would be striking all three companies. Not only had all three companies never been struck simultaneously, the UAW was utilizing a new, “stand-up” strike strategy that kept their membership motivated to join the picket lines at a moment’s notice.
As the strike escalated the Jobs With Justice network mobilized to help hold the line in their communities. Portland JWJ joined a rally in support of autoworkers and a worker-led just transition, Chicago JWJ held a virtual Workers’ Rights Board Hearing with support from national JWJ where workers called in straight from the picket lines, and other coalitions in Missouri and Florida collected essential supplies for striking autoworkers. By the time the strike had ended over eleven JWJ coalitions had participated in solidarity actions with the UAW.
“In 2019, I stood with striking UAW members to demand basic improvements at GM. And here we are again with a stronger labor movement, ready to take on the Big Three like never before.”Caitlyn Adams, Executive Director, Missouri Jobs With Justice
The industry-setting contracts won by UAW at the Big Three will lay the groundwork for innovative new campaigns in the South, especially as private companies continue to receive massive amounts of public funds to expand and build new electric vehicle (EV) plants – including electric battery and electric battery cell plants.