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A Worker’s Right to Strike…Sometimes.
A Strike is when a band of workers come together to cease work or production. Mass refusal of employees to perform their job can create massive economic and social impact. This usually garners the attention of those who are in charge of the rules or contracts employee’s hope will change.
Strikes first became common during the Industrial Revolution with the growth of mass factories and mining. In the earliest days, most countries made strikes an illegal activity. The United States included.
But before the US could make a strike illegal- they had to actually make it legal. Putting in place a set of guidelines and rules for striking.
Several laws that were passed in the 1930s gave workers the right to join a union and then go on strike. The Wagner Act of 1935 created the National Labor Relations Board (Act) to help oversee employee disputes in private industry.
The end of World War II led to an upsurge in labor unrest, and millions of workers across the country went on strike. In 1947, Congress amended (and restricted) the earlier laws with the Taft-Harley Act. This said that Now unions had to give warning for impending strikes, and the President was given explicit permission to intervene in some situations.
According to the NLRB “The lawfulness of a strike may depend on the object, or purpose, of the strike, on its timing, or on the conduct of the strikers. The object, or objects, of a strike and whether the objects are lawful are matters that are not always easy to determine. The consequences can be severe to striking employees and struck employers, involving as they do questions of reinstatement and back-pay.”
The following strikes are illegal, and employees who engage in such strikes will lose the protection of the National Labor Relations Act:
- Intermittent strikes, involving the constant repetition of short strikes in which the employees attempt to pressure the employer to concede to their demands while still receiving wages;
- “Work to rule” or slowdown strikes, in which employees fail to perform the duties which the employer has historically required them to perform;
- In-facility or “sit down” strikes, in which the striking employees take possession of the employer’s property and block others from entering;
- An organization picketing when the employer has lawfully recognized another union, or when a valid election has been conducted within the preceding 12 months;
- Secondary boycotts, in which the employees picket a neutral employer; and
- Violence and mass picketing.