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"We've been to hell and back": Employees walk out as job unhappiness soars

CBS News logo CBS News 8/16/2022 Elise Preston
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Workers from California to New York are demanding higher wages and better working conditions. Employees from coffee shops to hospitals have been staging walkouts and going on strike. 

It all comes amid a new Gallup poll that found half of workers are stressed, and one in five battles anger or sadness during the day. 

More than 150 Amazon workers walked off the job at an air freight facility in San Bernardino, California, on Monday, calling for a $5 raise and safer working conditions. 

More than 2,000 Kaiser Permanente mental health care workers in California are now on strike, saying they are stretched thin from the workload. In Minnesota, nearly 15,000 nurses authorized a strike Monday. 

"We've been to hell and back," said Brianna Hnath, a nurse at North Memorial Health Hospital in Minnesota. "We will not stop fighting until we are given a good and fair contract." 

Kaiser Permanente says the company has been negotiating with the union for more than a year.  

Dissatisfied and disengaged workers cost the global economy $7.8 trillion in lost productivity, according to the Gallup state of the global workplace report. This summer, there were 415,000 fewer workers in the U.S. workforce then last summer, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

"They need to look at how to retain workers. It's not just getting workers in the door," said AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist for the jobs website Indeed, when asked what the message is to companies moving forward. 

Sara Fry, a mom of two in Minnesota, is getting called back to her AT&T office in September after working remotely during the pandemic.  

"I'm like a lot of folks and there's a panic setting in," she said. "Some persons have actually said they're literally weeping every day, thinking about how they have to change up their day." 

With nearly two job openings for each unemployed person, workers are in the driver's seat. If employees don't get what they want, they may consider a job switch and look elsewhere. 

In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson told CBS News on Tuesday that it offers full-time employees a starting wage of at least $17 per hour at its San Bernardino facility, plus benefits such as healthcare and 401(k).

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"While we're always listening and looking at ways to improve, we remain proud of the competitive pay, comprehensive benefits, and engaging, safe work experience we provide our teams in the region," Amazon spokesperson Paul Flaningan said. 

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