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Federal Labor Law, Status, A Lexicon Of Labor Strikes, Unlawful Tactics, SettlementUnion Members

A work stoppage; the concerted refusal of employees to perform work that their employer has assigned to them in order to force the employer to grant certain demanded concessions, such as increased wages or improved employment conditions.

A work stoppage is generally the last step in a labor-management dispute over wages and working conditions. Because employees are not paid when they go on strike and employers lose productivity, both sides usually seek to avoid it. When negotiations have reached an impasse, however, a strike may be the only bargaining tool left for employees.

Employees can strike for economic reasons, for improvement of their working conditions, or for the mutual aid and protection of employees in another union. In addition, even if they do not have a union, employees can properly agree to stop working as a group; in that case they are entitled to all the protections that organized strikers are afforded.

LABOR UNIONS do not have the right to use a strike to interfere with management prerogatives or with policies that the employer is entitled to make that do not directly concern the employment relationship. A strike must be conducted in an orderly manner and cannot be used as a shield for violence or crime. Intimidation and coercion during the course of a strike are unlawful.

Union Members

Labor unions can fine or expel members who cross picket lines, fail to honor a lawful strike, or indulge in violence during a strike. In addition, they can discipline members for conduct antagonistic to the union, such as spying for the employer or participating in an unauthorized strike. A union member is entitled to a written notice of specific charges against him and a full and fair hearing before he can be expelled.


Smith, Robert Michael, and Scott Molloy. 2003. From Blackjacks to Briefcases: A History of Commercialized Strike-breaking and Unionbusting in the United States. Athens: Ohio Univ. Press.

Zinn, Howard. 2002. Three Strikes: Miners, Musicians, Salesgirls and the Fighting Spirit of Labor's Lost Century. Boston: Beacon Press.


Labor Law.

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