While strikes have been necessary for employer and employee negotiation for centuries, significant and prolonged strikes can impact economic conditions. Staffing agencies offer a buffer between the two parties to keep the workflow in motion and lessen the financial impact, providing well-qualified and certified staffers ready for temporary assignments. These agencies remain a neutral party, serving the greater economic good.
As strikes increase in size and frequency, staffing agencies must upgrade their technology to keep pace with these new demands. They are finding there is a wealth of information locked in separate data silos that can be leveraged for tremendous efficiency gains and business insights. Staffing agency systems are often so vast that proper integrations don’t exist to combine the information. But these silos can and will be unlocked to unleash automated systems that provide a new wave of intelligent analysis that improves internal operations and service to clients.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) have voted to strike against The Big Three auto manufacturers, General Motors (GM), Ford Motor (Ford), and Stellantis, the maker of Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep. UAW President Shawn Fain has taken a hard stance on behalf of auto workers. According to Reuters, 1 Fain said, “We’re done taking their crap and the scraps they want to feed us.” The Washington Post 2 quoted Fain as saying, “The only way the working class advances is if we stand together … the only way we’re ever going to have a better quality of life for ourselves and our families is if we fight for it.”
Public disputes between workers and employers that impact a region or the entire country go back hundreds of years, and women led the first displays of heroic defiance. For example, in 1824, women at Sam Slater’s Pawtucket, Rhode Island textile mill went on strike (then called a “turnout”) because mill owners planned to increase the workday by one hour and cut wages by 25 percent for power loom weavers. One hundred and two women blocked the entrance to the mill and were joined by men and children as they flooded the streets in protest. According to the New England Historical Society 3, “The owners agreed to a compromise, the details of which are lost to history. On June 3, the strikers returned to work.”
Precedent Has Been Set; The Ripple Effect Of Strikes
In recent years, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) went on strike when its contract with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) expired in 2014. The strike’s economic repercussions led to declining exports, increased expenses, and diminished consumer buying power. The National Association of Manufacturers 4 (NAM) estimated that “an import disruption during this same 20-day period would cost the economy $8.3 billion in 2014 and an additional $2.0 billion in 2015.”
On March 22, 2022, Sean M. O’Brien was sworn in as the new General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. According to Teamster.org,4 he “will bring a more militant, grassroots approach to taking on employers and will prioritize mobilizing rank-and-file members to get involved in the union.”
In July of 2023, O’Brien demonstrated his value by setting sights on UPS to eliminate a two-tier wage system for part-time and full-time workers, establish better overall pay, and air conditioning in every vehicle. His negotiations set the country on edge as UPS handles approximately a quarter of the U.S. parcel deliveries. Fortunately, an agreement was reached, and the strike was averted. However, a work stoppage would have resulted in company losses in the billions of dollars—hedging against more than $1 billion in lost wages for 340,000 UPS employees. ABC News states,5 “The value of the goods it [UPS] delivers annually has been estimated at 6% of the U.S. economy.”
Fast forward to the UAW strike today, the country will experience a significant disruption in auto manufacturing and is on the precipice of creating a slow supply chain and possibly impacting the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). An unfortunate and unintended byproduct of many strikes is the trickle-down effect that impacts household budgets.
Staffing Agencies Can Lessen The Impact
A prolonged strike involves concerns beyond the immediate working conditions and wages. Significant strikes ripple effect across various economic sectors, including supply chains and exports. Employing temporary workers from a staffing agency maintains some of the lost operational continuity and can even help mitigate the broader economic repercussions of a strike.
It’s important to note that staffing agencies are not in the business of job replacement; they provide a short-term production option in the event of a disruption. No strike lasts forever; when it’s over, the temporary workers depart, and union workers resume their jobs. Staffing agencies provide a valuable resource to decrease a strike’s impact and keep workers and the public safe by offering:
- Contingency Planning– Companies need to ensure continuity of operations, especially in sectors where interruptions can lead to significant revenue loss or public safety concerns. Staffing agencies analyze current processes, document the physical attributes of a company, and identify primary goals to develop a customized plan.
- Security Services –During a strike, protecting everyone involved, including employees on the picket line, is paramount. Staffing agencies use a hands-off approach to conflict resolution and non-confrontational methods to help create a safe and secure environment to prevent animosity and conflict.
- Skilled and Unskilled Workers – It takes expertise to keep a company running. Staffing agencies offer skilled and unskilled temporary workers to help maintain production levels and avoid delays or disruptions.
Aside from helping to mitigate the impact of strikes, staffing agencies offer a safety net for shipping companies during peak holiday periods. For example, according to Bloomberg,6 in 2022, Amazon sought to hire 150,000 additional holiday workers.
Another example is the nationwide demand for qualified CDL drivers, and staffing agencies typically provide a database of experienced drivers ready to deploy within a week. It’s essential for any organization seeking to augment their staff with CDL drivers to ask staffing agencies if their candidates have a minimum of one year of experience and have undergone rigorous screening for compliance. In addition, staffing agencies monitor each driver’s CDL and medical card status, conduct drug testing as required, pull yearly motor vehicle records for each individual, and ensure compliance with record-keeping requirements. These background checks ensure that a shipping company needing seasonal drivers will receive professional-quality help and require little orientation to achieve productivity.
Human Capital Management and Technology
Stress is a byproduct of recruitment, but it can be decreased with careful planning and establishing a relationship with a qualified staffing agency.7 Staffing agencies often bring experience beyond typical human resources because they have helped some of the nation’s largest organizations through the most challenging circumstances. However, the many systems these agencies use often contain vast amounts of information locked in data silos, making it difficult to obtain valuable business insights. Frequently, the data extraction methods are labor-intensive for sourcing insights for basic tasks and require manual navigation across multiple platforms.
Mining today’s system for data is time-consuming and often prone to inaccurate information and delays. A holistic enterprise-level system is needed to track the entire staffing life cycle from start to finish, processing and consolidating the work required for obtaining weekly paychecks, scheduling, milestone employment dates, and even certification reviews.
From Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Application Tracking Systems (ATS) to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), this data remains isolated in separate data silos. These systems were never intended for high-volume access or seamless integration with each other to produce efficiency and new business insights. An enhanced workflow system that empowers company employees with clarity regarding every step in the staffing fulfillment and placement process is needed to address the situation.
Automating the entire staffing process will provide agencies instantaneous tracking and visibility to notify a travel team about staff readiness, confirm documentation completion, update payroll data, monitor hours worked, and even auto-generate invoices. Horizontally tapping into the vertical data silos drives efficiency and accuracy by eliminating human error and unveils valuable business insights such as timely notifications about change assignments and milestones achieved by long-standing staffers.
These existing workflow systems have typically presented scalability issues, and the lack of integration with historical databases only exacerbates problems. By contrast, future integrated systems will seamlessly amalgamate all data resources, including core operating systems, client databases, CRM and ERP systems, project management tools, travel systems, and even Microsoft Office 365.
In addition, the staffing agency systems of tomorrow will furnish comprehensive reports depicting staffing metrics such as open positions, phone conversations, allocation of resources such as hotels or buses, field deployment numbers, termination rates, and metrics on staff attrition and the associated reasons. These new, fully automated systems will create efficiencies and ensure staffing agencies are well-equipped for tomorrow’s changes.
For centuries, strikes have been necessary for employer and employee negotiation. Unfortunately, some significant and prolonged strikes can impact economic conditions to the extent that they affect buying habits and even alter the GDP. Staffing agencies offer a buffer between the striking parties to keep a minimum workflow in motion and lessen the economic impact. They have a database of well-qualified and certified staff ready for temporary assignments.
As history shows, strikes are increasing in size and frequency; staffing agencies must upgrade their technology to keep pace with these new demands. These companies are realizing that there is a wealth of information locked in separate data silos they can leverage for tremendous efficiency gains and revealing new business insights. These systems are often so vast that proper integrations and APIs don’t exist to combine the information. But through perseverance and vision, these silos will be unlocked to unleash automated systems that provide a new wave of intelligent analysis to improve internal operations and external service to clients.
Employer and employee confrontations are a byproduct of business evolution; staffing agencies should be the temporary remedy preventing a trickle-down effect from impacting household budgets. Staffing agencies will remain a neutral party, serving the greater economic good.
1 UAW presses for strike vote at Detroit Three automakers, UAW presses for strike vote at Detroit Three automakers | Reuters, Reuters, August 15, 20236:23 PM CDT.
2 United Auto Workers authorize leadership to call strike against Big Three, UAW authorizes union leadership to call strike against Big Three after contract expires Sept. 14 – The Washington Post, Jeanne Whalen, The Washingon Post, August 25, 2023, at 12:27 p.m. EDT
3 Girl Power in 1824: The First Factory Strike in America, Girl Power in 1824: The First Factory Strike in America (newenglandhistoricalsociety.com), New England Historical Society, 2023.
4 National Impact of West Coast Port Stoppage, National Impact of a West Coast Port Stoppage | NAM
5 O’Brien-Zuckerman, General Executive Board Begin Five-Year Term, https://teamster.org/2022/03/obrien-zuckerman-general-executive-board-begin-five-year-term/, Kara Denis, March 22, 2022.
6 UPS workers’ union leader explains what’s at stake as strike edges closer, UPS workers’ union leader explains what’s at stake as strike edges closer – ABC News (go.com), ABC News, July 7, 2023, 4:21 PM.