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Have Union Strikes Gone By the Wayside?



Bloomberg BNA published an article on Nov. 27 examining the ever declining amount of union-sponsored strikes in America. According to the report, “The number of strikes held in 1990 was 793, and that dropped to 102 in 2015.” Various factors may be affecting this, including the ongoing decline in the number of American private sector union members (only 6.4 percent of all such workers belong to a union now) and the fact many workers these days are not willing to forgo getting a paycheck. The Bloomberg article describes some of the hardships workers currently on strike in New York and New Jersey are facing: “Striking is a bedrock of union power, [a union member currently on strike] said, but it can take a toll on workers. He paints a picture of single mothers struggling to feed their children and union members who are forced to sleep in their cars because of paltry subsistence strike wages.”


While the number of strikes as a whole is on the decline, companies too can face hardships during work stoppages in the event they occur – from struggles to meet customer demands to decreased quality when using replacement workers (at least at first when they are getting trained). Accordingly, companies facing a labor agreement expiration should consider careful contingency planning to help safeguard the company in the event of a strike, as they remain a possibility even if their volume is dwindling.


David Pryzbylski

Recently recognized as one of the top under-40 labor lawyers in the nation by Law360, David J. Pryzbylski’s interest in labor relations began early in high school, having grown up next to several of the largest steel mills in the world. Today, David is a Partner in Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s Labor & Employment Department. Building on his interest in labor relations, he concentrates a large portion of his practice on assisting employers with traditional labor matters, including collective bargaining; work stoppages; arbitrations; union avoidance training and strategies; union representation elections; unfair labor practice charges; contract administration; and various other labor relations issues.

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