Over half million workers on strike in 2023 for more pay and protection from AI : Up First Today on The Sunday Story host Ayesha Rascoe talks to NPR labor correspondent Andrea Hsu and NPR culture correspondent Mandalit del Barco about the forces driving this year's massive strikes. More than half a million workers went on strike in 2023, largely from the private sector.

The Sunday Story: Year of the Union

The Sunday Story: Year of the Union

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BURBANK, CALIFORNIA: Members of SAG-AFTRA go on strike on Day 2 at The Walt Disney Co. studios on July 14, 2023, in Burbank, California. Kevin Winter/Getty Images hide caption

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Kevin Winter/Getty Images

BURBANK, CALIFORNIA: Members of SAG-AFTRA go on strike on Day 2 at The Walt Disney Co. studios on July 14, 2023, in Burbank, California.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Today on The Sunday Story host Ayesha Rascoe talks to NPR Labor Correspondent Andrea Hsu and NPR Culture Correspondent Mandalit del Barco about the forces driving this year's massive strikes.

More than half a million workers went on strike in 2023, largely from the private sector. For many, it was the first contract negotiation since the pandemic, and as Hsu notes, people were rethinking their jobs and their own value. "You know, you had people in jobs that had to be done in person like manufacturing and health care and retail. They started thinking to themselves, 'If I'm truly essential, if I risked my life going to work so that others could stay home, don't I deserve to be paid more?'"

Hsu spent months covering the UAW autoworkers strike while del Barco covered the strikes in Hollywood. Pay was a big concern for striking writers and actors, del Barco says, but they also had serious concerns about the lack of protections from artificial intelligence.

"I met background actors who told me they've already been asked to be scanned so that, for instance, they could be cut and pasted into big crowd scenes without having to hire more human actors."

From Hollywood to Detroit to the A-I dilemma, The Sunday Story looks at a powerful year for American workers.


This podcast episode was produced by Andrew Mambo and edited by Pallavi Gogoi and Jennifer Schmidt. Our mix engineer was Gilly Moon.

We'd love to hear from you. Send us an email at TheSundayStory@npr.org.

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