Is It Time for the Courts to End Labor Lockouts?

Source: Moshe Marvit, The Century Foundation, June 30, 2016

From the summary:
The labor lockout—an action by the management of a company to deny workers access to their place of employment—was once a rare phenomenon compared to the strike, and there was a time when one could be fairly certain that any work stoppage was a strike. But in recent years, the federal courts and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) have expanded the permissible use of lockouts by management to the point that they now represent a significant portion of work stoppages. At a time when the most well-known tools of labor organizing have already been undermined by aggressive (and too frequently unlawful) anti-union tactics by employers, this enhancement of management power is designed to weaken the bargaining power of unions, and lead to a further decline in the earnings and benefits available to hard-working families. The previous rationale for widely authorizing the use of employer lockouts is outdated in today’s economy. In order to properly balance the interest of employers and workers, and preserve workers’ rights to organize, bargain, and strike, the courts should reconsider their precedents and take decisive action to curtail lockouts.

This report will examine the current state of lockouts, how they have increased in relation to strikes, how the law has permitted this expansion, and what must be done to restore workers’ rights to stop work….

What You Should Know
– A “labor lockout” describes when the management of a company denies its workers physical access to their place of employment and hires replacement workers in their absence.
– Lockouts, as opposed to strikes, are considered a tactic to weaken bargaining power of unions, causing workplace power to be increasingly skewed in favor of employers.
– The vast majority of recent lockouts occur in three industries: manufacturing; arts, entertainment, and recreation; and utilities.
– After several court cases, the NLRB has decided that lockouts largely hurt hard-working families and pose a looming threat to workers who wish to engage in meaningful collective bargaining.