Have you ever driven by a business, see people standing outside with signs and wondered what happened or why those people aren’t at work? Although commonly misunderstood, employees use strikes as a final effort to come to an agreement on what they deem to be “fair” from their employers. According to the Business Dictionary, a strike is a collective, organized cessation or slowdown of work by employees to force acceptance of their demands by the employer. Although it should be noted that labor unions try to exhaust all other measures before resorting to a strike.
Oftentimes, during collective bargaining, the employer and employees cannot come to an agreement on topics ranging from wages to working conditions. This lack of agreement is what is formally called an impasse. At an impasse, workers may agree to go on strike in an effort to settle the impasse. While strikes typically have a negative connotation, strikes help explain why labor unions are more powerful than individuals. In 1786, a group of printers in Philadelphia requested a raise and when the company declined, the workers stopped working in protest and eventually received their raise.
Different Types of Strikes
Did you know that there isn’t just one type of strike in which workers can engage? Take a look at the below for some of the different strikes.
Slowdown Strike: An intermittent work stoppage by employees who remain on the job.
Sitdown Strike: A strike in which employees stop working and refuse to leave the employer’s premises.
Walkout strike: An unannounced refusal to perform work. This strike may be spontaneous or planned in advance but kept a secret.
Sympathy strike: A work stoppage designed to provide support to a related union engaged in an employment dispute.
Common Unknown Facts about Strikes
Some people think that union workers will just go on strike whenever they’re unhappy, but it’s important to know that strikes are often the last measure that labor unions take at an impasse. Take a look at some other common unknown facts about strikes.
- A strike must be approved by the majority of employees in a secret ballot.
- The ballot must be subject to independent verification if the number of employees exceeds a certain number.
- A notice of the impending strike ballot must be given to the employer a certain number of days in advance.
- The employer must be provided with the results of the ballot.
- A notice of the union’s intention to proceed with the strike must be given to the employer a certain number of days in advance.