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Big World
Labor Strikes Back
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3 months ago
Organized labor is having a moment. In this episode, School of International Service professor Stephen Silvia joins Big World to discuss the evolution of the labor movement, the significance of the recent United Auto Workers strike and recent organizing attempts by both Starbucks and Amazon employees, and what the future holds for unions. Silvia, who researches comparative labor employment relations with a focus on the US and Germany, begins our conversation by discussing how union organizing has changed over the past few decades (1:50). Silvia also analyzes the importance of the recent UAW strike and resulting contracts with the Big Three automakers (3:47) and discusses efforts by the UAW to organize foreign-owned auto plants in the American South, as detailed in his recent book, The UAW’s Southern Gamble: Organizing Workers at Foreign Owned Vehicle Plants (8:22). What challenges will the UAW face surrounding electric vehicle manufacturing (19:27)? How will organizers confront declining union membership (25:02)? Silvia answers these questions and discusses how the “union avoidance playbook” can make organizing difficult at places like Amazon and Starbucks (26:53). Silvia ends our conversation by explaining why Gen Z is making unions cool again (28:42). In the “Take 5” segment (15:04), Silvia answers the question: What steps or practices are necessary for workers to have more of a voice in the workplace?