The labor of strikes: Unions, workers, and the 2023 US strike wave

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the ongoing 2023 US strike wave while setting it within the institutional and historical context of the post-war American industrial relations paradigm. This paradigm was often challenged by workers, and after 1970, its decline also reflected deindustrialization, increasing employer attacks and state and legal shifts toward neoliberalism which contributed to the decline of unionization, strikes, and increasingly deteriorating work conditions. However, especially after the 2008–2009 crisis, these factors also laid the basis for increasing worker resistance. The COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath have shifted labor market conditions in the workers’ favor and contributed to the current strike wave, and some strikes such as those by the United Auto Workers have been framed within a wider political and class narrative. Nonetheless, the trajectory of these strikes is in question. Whether they can lead to a sustained increase in American workers’ power depends on their ability to scale up both through organizing and politically via the state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHuman Geography(United Kingdom)
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • United States
  • labor
  • neoliberalism
  • strikes
  • unions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Philosophy


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