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    Categories: MiscellaneousPolitics

Top 10 Famous Strikes in Recent History

When all else fails, strike! This is how union workers think when they want to get their points across. For the majority of those employed, however, protesting a job is unthinkable, not to mention a fireable offense. When pay becomes too low to bear, options exist in the form of a) negotiating with a boss and/or working overtime, b) finding a new job that pays better, or c) sucking it up. In this way union workers have it easy, not to mention the fact that they usually get paid at least double what a non-union worker makes, or that their contracts are continually open for discussion (and improvement). Here are ten of the most famous strikes in recent history (the last decade or so):

10
General Motors Strike

In 2007, from September 24 to 26, about 73,000 auto workers in the United Auto Workers Union raised their wrenches defiantly against General Motors, with concerns of compensation, benefits, job stability and company investment (complaints of the usual sort). After two assembly plants and a transmission facility in Canada were, effectively, shut down, a deal was agreed upon and the wheels were in motion once more.

9
UK Postal Strike

Tens of millions of items were not delivered from the Summer of 2009 to the Spring of 2010, due to picketing postal workers. The strike was agreed upon after Royal Mail failed to disclose how modernization plans would affect workers’ job security. A letter-route sequencing machine, for instance, would, effectively, render human workers obsolete. A deal was eventually struck, in the form of higher pay and an agreement to maintain 75% of workers in full-time positions.


8
South Africa Miners Strike

A one-day strike on December 4th, 2007; the entirety of the mining industry went on strike against the unsafe conditions of working in a mine. While the dangers of a mine are nothing new (just ask any Minecraft veteran who’s ever gone spelunking for iron ore after dark), it was the rise in deaths between 2006 and 2007, and a government plan to reduce this number, which prompted such a resounding outcry.

7
Wal-Mart Strike

In 2006, 200 employees from a Florida Wal-Mart stood outside in protest of unfair working conditions, ranging from belittled wages to cut hours. Wal-Mart has long be perceived as an anti-personnel juggernaut, donning a deceptive “smiley face” logo, in spite of what appears on the employees’ faces. The customers never really see the blood, sweat and tears that lies behind a two-dollar 40-pack of paper towels (that is, beyond that which they wipe up themselves). Protesting paid off, however, in the most literal of ways – in 2008 the franchise paid out $640 million to settle a majority of the suits filed against the yellow smiley face.

6
Verizon Strike

Forty five thousand Verizon employees simultaneously shouted “Can you hear me now?” (so to speak) as workers across the country went on strike. As a result, 411 offered very little help. Contracts of myriad landline employees had expired, leaving them jobless in a world where wireless is the dominant format. And up went the pickets, with many gathered around the New York headquarters.


5
Hockey Strike

Who would’ve thought hockey could cease to be a sport? Such seemed to be the case during a lockout during the 2004-2005 season that seemed to last forever. It felt weird at the time, hockey always seeming to be an immortal institution far too big for petty grievances; but like the ever-circling Zamboni, the ice remained clear for a whole year. There was a weird silence, teeming with feelings of resentment and betrayal. The issue? Players’ salaries and the threat of salary caps being implemented. Hockey players were just unwilling to accept checks that body-checked their pride. Eventually it was resolved, and Stanley Cups have been dealt once more (as well as more than handsome contracts for the stick-whacking pros).

4
Football Strike

It didn’t last nearly as long as the hockey strike, partially for fear of the prospect of losing FOOTBALL for a whole year. That would be like America going on sick-leave (to some). It surely wasn’t too hard to settle the over-the-top needs of the players, when the bloated empire itself rakes in more stacks of cash than can be laid, like astro-turf, over Gillette Stadium’s playing field. Plenty of money to support Michael Vick’s dog-fighting habits, anyway.

3
New York City Transit Strike

In 2005, buses and subways were halted from December 20 to 22. Millions who rely on public transportation to carry on the essential of life were effectively grounded. The strike, on behalf of the Transport Workers Union, demanded from the Metropolitan Transit Authority pension, wage and retirement increases in unsuccessful contract negotiations. Workers were apparently adequately satiated, as transit operations were back in full order in the late morning of December 22nd.

2
Writers’ Strike

Between November of 2007 and February of 2008, T.V. was just not happening. That is, it wasn’t being written, and thus wasn’t airing. Potential losses were estimated to be between hundreds of millions and billions of dollars on behalf of the strike. The cause was a failure to agree on terms for a new contract for the writers’ issues, including DVD residuals, animation and reality T.V. writers, and New Media disbursement. Many actors joined in on the picketing, in spite of the forbidding terms of their own contracts, standing by those who give them their on-screen identities. Several shows even returned to air sans writers, such as the Tonight Show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report (the latter two however changed their names during the strike to “A Daily Show” and Colbert Report, with two hard ‘T’s).

1
Teachers’ Strike

It is a tireless mantra: teachers have forever been called “overworked and underpaid,” and finally, at least in Washington, they stood up with signs in hand. The teachers went on strike in September 2011, for the reasons of low pay, classroom size and the way in which districts toss teachers around. Even though district lawyers say public workers can’t legally strike, and the Tacoma School District tried to get the Supreme Court to order teachers back to the classrooms, the protests caused schools to remain closed for days on end. Still, teachers get little more than that shiny red apple on their desk.

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  • wow, Solidarnosc ???????????? aka Solidarity, Poland, the 80s, hallo, id say one of the main events that brought down communism would be number 1 no?

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  • great list. one not that should be up there. the writers striike is one of the biggest reasons reality television took off in this country. no writers, no actors, no scripts. no problem. writers strike equals years of vomit from my tv set.

    • Not quite, Al. I have a number of family and friends who are/were television writers. While the strike did affect them, the effect on television was not very great or lasting. To get the real story behind the advent of "reality T.V.", read this, from Writers Guild of America, West (or wgaw): http://www.wga.org/organizesub.aspx?id=1099 An excerpt from the page: Reality-based television is not new, of course. Alan Funt, with his 1948 TV series Candid Camera is often credited as reality TV's first practitioner. In fact, he started a year earlier with Candid Microphone on radio. Truth or Consequences started in 1950 and frequently used secret cameras. Both of these two pioneering series created artificial realties to see how ordinary people would respond; the reality series of today borrow a lot from these precedents and differ mostly in scope and locale. A number of "who am I?" game shows accommodated the clunky nature of early TV technology by bringing real people into the studio. What's My Line premiered in 1950; I've Got a Secret in 1952; To Tell the Truth in 1956. These shows seem tame by today's standards, but were certainly cutting a new edge in the 1950s. The judge who married Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller appeared live on What's My Line within a week of performing the wedding. Even in the earliest days, the camera roamed out of the studio occasionally with film technology. You Asked For It took the viewer to amazing sights and spectacular phenomena as early as 1950. Perhaps ahead of its time was An American Family on PBS in 1973. It was unusual in its focus on a seemingly mundane family named the Louds, who harbored sensational secrets. This series pushed the documentary genre beyond its traditional bounds. The daily lives of the Loud family were on display. The televised decision of the parents to divorce and the on-screen coming out of their gay son shocked audiences in the 1970s.

  • In my 25 years in the workforce I've held both union and non-union jobs. Two observations: Unions breed laziness. Union pay drives up the cost of goods and services for the rest of us (those of us that rely on actually working and getting paid based on merit). Get off your a** and get to work.

  • Wow you sooo dont know what you r talking about! You have clearly never paid in and got yours together, i am sorry life worked like that but unions are not the problem it is your misinterpretation of historical events! Do you want to go back to working 7 days a week for 6O hours in some mine! ( with a child ) Every minute of spare time you have was fought for (dearly) by members of a union- if you have problems join yours and make a difference- dont be a cartman and take your ball and go hone