The U.S. is experiencing an unusual surge of strikes – 10,000 John Deere workers went on strike in October, and so did 1,400 Kellogg workers, and now 35,000 Kaiser Permanente health care workers are threatening to walk out.

Workplace experts generally point to two reasons for this surge. First, after working so hard and often risking their lives during the pandemic, many workers believe that they deserve better pay and treatment. Second, American workers – especially long-underappreciated essential and low-wage workers – are suddenly feeling empowered because of today’s labor shortage.