Labor strikes, inflation, a severe supply chain crisis, COVID-19, and vaccine mandates could potentially add up to a consumer nightmare.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent domino effect of problems have provided workers across the country the opportunity and incentive to push for higher wages.
After rejecting a contract offer Thursday, 10,000 John Deere workers went on strike, just one of 178 worker strikes in 2021 thus far.
Vaccine mandates are definitely having an effect on the country’s workforce as well. Hundreds of current and former Southwest Airlines employees gathered outside their headquarters in Dallas, Texas in protest of the company’s vaccine mandate. The airline was forced to cancel or delay hundreds of flights in recent weeks amid reports that pilots had participated in a sick-out, however, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly and the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association both denied reports of the protest. Southwest Airlines President Mike Van de Ven released a statement claiming the cancellations and delays were weather-related.
“As a result, our aircraft and crews were not in their pre-planned positions to operate our schedule on Saturday,” Van de Ven said. “Unfortunately, the out-of-place aircraft and crew resources created additional cancellations … that cascaded throughout the weekend and into Monday and Tuesday.”
“Our employees worked heroically in the midst of these adverse conditions and many came in on off days, or flew additional trips, to help the airline recover. I offer my sincere thanks and appreciation for their tireless work and dedication,” he added.
“The strikes are sending a signal, no doubt about it, that employers ignore workers at their peril,” AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler said. “I think this wave of strikes is actually going to inspire more workers to stand up and speak out and put that line in the sand and say, ‘We deserve better.’ “
President Joe Biden was urging a unionization effort among Amazon workers in Arizona last week.
Recently, The White House has been sending mixed messages in regard to the employment market, supply chains and inflation, just days after White House officials warned Americans about higher prices and empty shelves at Christmastime, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain claimed in a tweet that inflation and supply chain chaos are “high-class problems.”
“There will be things that people can’t get,” a senior White House official said. “At the same time, a lot of these goods are hopefully substitutable by other things … I don’t think there’s any real reason to be panicked, but we all feel the frustration and there’s a certain need for patience to help get through a relatively short period of time.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki struggled to reconcile the conflicting claims during a Thursday press briefing.