Union Workers Refuse Contracts Until Demands Are Met Due to Tight Labor Market

Credit: shutterstock

As inflation has spiked over the last couple of years, union workers are demanding contracts that keep up with the increasing cost of living. Reuters reports that unions in several industries, including transportation, factory workers, agricultural workers, and construction workers, are refusing deals that they believe do not give enough of a pay increase to make a difference nor do they allow for the desired “work-life balance.” 

A low unemployment rate is allowing union workers to make bold requests for their contracts and remain firm in their negotiations with employers. Not only are workers requesting more pay, they are also asking for more affordable healthcare, paid sick time and more flexible scheduling. 


Since inflation has soared 18% from May 2019, according to the Conference Board, workers recognize that basic wage hikes will not make a difference. Sam Johnson, a machinist at Caterpillar’s plant in Decatur, Illinois, shared his frustration saying that “even with the pay increase, I’m pretty much still in the same position that I was when I was making less money due to inflation,” said Johnson, adding that nonunion machinists in his area can make almost $8 per hour more than his new hourly wage of $27.55.” 

Railroad workers have rejected a 24% wage increase due to a lack of suitable paid sick leave. Union workers in industrial factories in Wisconsin and Iowa didn’t accept a deal until they received a 38% increase over four years. American airline pilots also didn’t settle until they received a deal that increased the value of their contract by $8 billion. 


Employers were desperate for workers during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the need for workers still high, union members are seizing the opportunity to fight for better contracts that will improve their standard of living and meet the costs of inflation. 

Recommended For You