The NFL’s labor impasse ended this week, but not before things got a bit messy. Commentators had a field day talking about the tarnished image of the stalwart league that many thought could do no wrong in the eyes of its fans.
Once it became apparent that those adoring fans wouldn’t long tolerate games decided by bumbling referees, the NFL and the officials settled. The long-term damage to the league will likely be negligible, and it’s doubtful the NFL lost any money.
The sport might be lucky in that regard. The history of labor strife in the United States has included riots, economic hardship and countless deaths from the coalmines of West Virginia and Kentucky to the steel mills of Pennsylvania and even The Los Angeles Times building.
The NFL’s mess got AdvisorOne wondering about strikes that have cost companies and others dearly in terms of money. Here is AdvisorOne’s list of 6 Strikes That Cost Companies Millions.
Great Hawaiian Sugar Strike, 1946:
Cost: $25.5 million ($203 million today, adjusted for inflation)
Hawaii might be best known as a paradise of the Pacific, but sugar industry workers were far from content in September 1946. They walked off the job in a call for better working conditions, pay, benefits and an end to racial inequality. Before the strike, the Big Five plantations were in total control. After, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union was in charge of benefits like medical and housing. In all, 26,000 workers went on strike. Ultimately, the sugar makers lost about $15 million ($118 million today) in revenue and had to increase pay and benefits to workers totaling $10.5 million ($85 million).
General Electric, 1969:
Cost: $79 million ($495 million today)
In 1969, workers for all unions associated with General Electric staged a strike seeking better wages and benefits. Maybe management thought the workers would never last long on the $25 a week they received in strike benefits. If so, management badly underestimated the will of the workers. The strike started in October 1969 and wasn’t settled until February 1970, more than 14 weeks later. In the end, GE’s fourth quarter profit dropped 85% from the previous year, and profit was off 22% for the year. Workers won wage increases of up to 6.5%, medical benefits, increased vacation and other concessions.
Cost: $650 million ($930 million today)
Tens of thousands of drivers for Big Brown, the United Parcel Service, struck the company in 1997. The strike lasted just 16 days, but the effects were devastating. Forget that the Teamsters managed to get everything they wanted, including, according to Florida’s Sun-Sentinel, that 2,000 fulltime jobs be created over a year’s time to eliminate many part-time jobs.
Management and workers might have expected things to get back to normal, but a year after the strike, the company had still not regained business lost to competitors like FedEx and, especially, the U.S. Postal Service. Also, about 60% of the workforce was still part-time and the company had laid off drivers to counteract falling revenue, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
Cost: $2 billion ($2.1 billion today)