Business Daily Media

Business Marketing


What are strike funds? A labor-management relations expert explains

  • Written by Raymond Gibney Jr., Associate Professor of Management, Penn State
What are strike funds? A labor-management relations expert explains

When people go on strike, their employers don’t pay them. That makes it hard for workers who have walked off the job to keep paying their bills[1]. Union members have an advantage during strikes because they can get help with housing, food and other essential expenses through payments from strike funds[2].

These payments only cover basic expenses and generally don’t fully replace lost income.

Members pay dues and fees[3] to finance their unions. Every month, members of the United Auto Workers, for example, pay the equivalent of what they earn in two hours[4] to their union. New members can also be required to pay a one-time initiation fee that’s much higher. The Screen Actors Guild’s initiation fee is US$3,000[5].

Beyond covering day-to-day operations, union dues accumulate for future uses, including strike funds. Once a strike is authorized, members in good standing are eligible to receive either a fixed dollar amount or a percentage of their earnings as outlined in the union’s constitution and bylaws[6].

Union members have traditionally reported to a local union’s office on a specific day and time to pick up their strike benefits. Some unions are seeing if they can rely instead on electronic distribution systems[7].

Why strike funds matter

When unions have amassed large strike funds, it can force employers to take the threat of a strike seriously because it signals that workers can stay off the job[8] longer. That, in turn, can help unions win more of their demands during contract negotiations.

Other sources of financial support during strikes are limited.

Two states, New York and New Jersey, allow workers to collect unemployment benefits while they’re on strike[9]. A measure to adopt a similar policy is pending in California’s legislature[10]. But for the most part, U.S. workers can’t get jobless benefits during strikes.

Charity can play a role as well, depending on the industry. Some of the screenwriters and actors who went on strike in mid-2023 have been getting support from nonprofits like the Entertainment Community Fund[11] and the SAG-AFTRA Foundation[12] – to which celebrities like George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, Meryl Streep and Oprah Winfrey have each given at least $1 million to help Hollywood workers get by while they’re not getting paychecks.

Closeup of a red polo shirt with a UAW logo on one side and a button on the other saying 'I don't want to strike but I will!'
The United Auto Workers union is prepared to go on strike if it doesn’t secure new contracts with GM, Ford and Stellantis by midnight Sept. 14, 2023. AP Photo/Carlos Osorio[13]

United Auto Workers ready to strike

The UAW says it’s ready to strike against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis – the company that makes Chrysler vehicles – unless its negotiations with the three Detroit-based automakers results in a contract by midnight on Sept. 14, 2023[14].

The union has committed to making weekly payments from its strike fund of $500 per week[15] if there’s a strike, plus some benefits[16]. Its members’ pay varies, but the highest earners at unionized U.S. automotive assembly factories can make up to $32 an hour[17] – $1,280 per week – plus benefits.

The UAW has about $825 million in its strike fund[18]. That money could probably last for 12 weeks if all of its nearly 150,000 members[19] working for automakers were to go on strike at one time. It’s possible that UAW leaders would prefer to limit a strike to one or two companies, as opposed to all three, or to only a few factories, to ensure that the workers could stay on strike longer.

Read more

Deep Blue Company marks 10 years of operation with major milestone of largest national market share

The Australian pioneer of digital conveyancing is now 20 times larger than the nearest competitor in the sale-to-settlement category following pla...


Why the Building Sector will be hit HARD in 2024

Since February, 2023, there has been an upswing in housing values even with rate rising measures by the Reserve Bank of Australia. The same growth i...


5 Mistakes of Online Stores Solved by Sales Automation

#1 Recordkeeping is done in office programs (like Excel) Let’s suppose that you own a small online store with some 20-30 items in the assortment...

Business Training

Importance Of Clotheslines In Every Home

As technology continues to advance, some household chores have become easier and more convenient. However, drying clothes still remains a task tha...


Accelerating Business Growth: A Comprehensive Review of Strategies and Tactics

If you are a business owner, you know that growth is essential for success. However, achieving business growth is not always a straightforward process...

Business Training

What to Consider When Searching For a New Office Space

Plenty of signs can indicate that your current office space is not fit for purpose. You might have grown your business, downsized it, or realized ...

Business Training