As Teamsters strike across the country, more and more are setting up GoFundMe pages for donations to help pay the bills.
While on strike, workers do not collect paychecks from their employers and most states do not pay strikers unemployment compensation.
The hardships of a union strike
If workers have not saved any money ahead of time, many workers who live paycheck-to-paycheck cannot afford to strike.
It is not uncommon for strikers to end up losing cars, homes and, in some cases, families have even been torn apart as the result of lengthy strikes.
While most unions often have strike funds that are set aside to help members who are on strike, the weekly amount given to strikers is often barely enough to feed a family of four, let alone maintain mortgages and car payments.
When members of the Teamsters strike—there are currently five strikes going on across the country, members are entitled to four times their monthly dues rate.
So, for example, if a union member pays $40 per month in union dues, (s)he should be entitled to $160 per week in strike pay.
However, that strike pay does not begin until after the second week of striking, In addition, monthly union dues are deducted from strike payments.
While most strikers never recoup the money lost while striking, many are finding that their unions’ strike pay also does not pay enough to live on—especially during lengthy strikes.
Helping strikers through the internet
Ever since the advent of a strike, people who support strikers and their causes have often helped sustain strikers during labor disputes, like strikes or lockouts.
In the “old days,” strikers’ families or communities-at-large would set up soup kitchens, deliver food to picket lines and, in many cases, receive donations from food banks or other charities.
In today’s modern, technological times, things are changing for strikers. Now, instead of receiving physical donations to sustain them, unions are turning to the internet to raise support.
The striking Teamsters in California, for example, have set up a GoFundMe.com page to ask supporters for money.
Although they have only raised $760 over the last seven days, a similar GoFundMe page was set up for 74 Teamster strikers in Illinois raised $6,538 over a six month period.
Although that breaks down to only $88 per striker, it is still moneys that could feed a family for a few days.