Wall Street Journal: Marick Masters on GM controlled labor cost

Labor unrest reached its highest level in nearly two decades with 25 labor-related work stoppages—including strikes and lockouts—involving 1,000 or more workers in 2019, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That was the most since 2001 and came during a year of solid economic growth and the lowest unemployment rate in a half century. Labor disputes tend to increase when the job market is tight and workers feel they have more leverage; the unemployment rate fell to a half-century low in 2019. The level of labor disputes has moved higher in the past two years—driven by work stoppages by teachers—and is well above the record low of five in 2009, the year the recession ended—despite union membership falling in the past decade. The total number of strikes last year was small compared with the hundreds that occurred annually in the 1960s and 70s. “General Motors was in a relatively good financial position...and settled on an agreement that controlled their labor costs going forward,” said Marick Masters, a management professor who studies labor relations at Wayne State University.

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