Sep 19, 2022

Podcasts in the Classroom - Labor Strikes and the Rise of Union Memberships

This week’s PITC uses a variety of shorter, readily available podcasts to discuss how the tight job market is shifting the balance of power in workers’ favor. These recent headlines are aimed to inspire discussion. 

Here are some 2-4 minute Marketplace podcasts discussing these headlines:

  • 9/12 Marketplace - Possible train strike could derail supply chain even more
  • 9/2 Marketplace Musicians union challenges Spotify to raise royalties
  • 8/26 Marketplace - Labor movement adds union members store by store

Here are some relevant Marketplace Minute podcasts.

  • 9/15 Morning Brief - Costly rail strike averted and number working from home tripled!
  • 9/12 Midday Report - Rail strike threatening and Minnesota nurses walk off the job 
  • 9/8 Closing Bell - IMF economists predict US unemployment will have to double to tame inflation
  • 9/2 Closing Bell - Jobs report better than expected, labor force participation rises
  • 8/30 Midday Report - A record 11.2 million job openings in the US were reported for July


Determine how much time you want to devote to this activity, and select podcasts to provide students with background information.

Have students then tackle these discussion questions. This can be done individually, in groups, or as a class. You can also access ready-to-use slides here.

  1.  What factors in the labor market are contributing to the rise of union memberships and labor strikes?
  2. Do you think workers in certain industries have more power than others due to the economic/human impact of that industry? (Compare rail workers, nurses, teachers, fast food workers, and musicians.)
  3. If/when the economy slows down and unemployment rises, do you think this shift of power to the workers’ benefit will change back, or just slow down?

If you use this assignment in your class, please let us know how it went!

About the Authors

Beth Tallman

Beth Tallman entered the working world armed with an MBA in finance and thoroughly enjoyed her first career working in manufacturing and telecommunications, including a stint overseas. She took advantage of an involuntary separation to try teaching high school math, something she had always dreamed of doing. When fate stepped in once again, Beth jumped on the opportunity to combine her passion for numbers, money, and education to develop curriculum and teach personal finance at Oberlin College. Beth now spends her time writing on personal finance and financial education, conducts student workshops, and develops finance curricula and educational content. She is also the Treasurer of Ohio Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.

Ren Makino

Ren started interning at NGPF in 2014, and worked part-time through high school and college. With his knowledge growing alongside NGPF, he joined the team to work full-time after graduating from college in 2020. He is also the producer of the NGPF podcast. During his free time, he likes to try out coffees from different roasters across the world.

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