Category Archives: Strikes

Staffing Ratios, Retiree Benefits Sticking Issues as California Nurses Strike Sutter Health

Source: Eileen Prendiville and Mischa Gaus, Labor Notes, #344, November 2007

Leading a strike that one hospital administrator said cost her $1 million a day, 5,000 registered nurses at 10 Northern California hospitals in the Sutter Health chain walked off their jobs for two days in mid-October. Five facilities locked out striking nurses for an additional one to three days when the strike, the largest among nurses in a decade, was over.

“Fighting for Our Share of the American Pie”: The 1985 Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Strike

Source: Jennifer L. Worley, Labor Studies Journal, Vol. 32 no. 1, March 2007
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This article analyzes the 1985 Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel strike and places it in the context of the declining American steel industry and deteriorating relationship between the steel companies and the United Steelworkers of America. Within the hostile 1980s economic and political climate, steelworkers at Wheeling-Pitt unleashed a repertoire of bargaining tactics that would help them achieve at least some of their demands while preventing the company’s liquidation. Besides exploring the reasons why steelworkers struck a bankrupt company and how they secured their demands, the article demonstrates how the strike offered new strategies for negotiating with capital at a time when unions’ options were severely limited.

Striker Replacement: A Human Rights Perspective

Source: Lance Compa, Perspectives on Work, Summer 2006, Volume 10, no. 1

United States labor law on workers’ right to strike meets international human rights standards—up to a point. The law does not ban strikes in the private sector. Unlike many countries that nominally allow strikes but create onerous procedural obstacles (Mexico is a prime example), the United States, aside from modest notice requirements, lets workers decide to strike. In a handful of states, public-sector workers can strike.

So far, so good. But beyond this point, U.S. labor law and practice deviate from international standards. In the public sector, most strikes are prohibited even with no threat to public health or safety (the main proviso developed by the International Labor Organization). In the private sector, employers’ power to permanently replace workers who exercise the right to strike effectively nullifies that right.

PATCO, Permanent Replacement, and the Loss of Labor’s Strike Weapon

Source: Joseph A. McCartin, Perspectives on Work, Summer 2006, Volume 10, no. 1

August 3, 2006, marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of an event that many in organized labor would prefer to forget. On that date in 1981, more than 12,000 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) walked off their jobs with the Federal Aviation Administration. When 11,325 of them refused to heed a back-to-work order issued by President Ronald Reagan and end their illegal walkout within forty-eight hours, they were discharged and permanently replaced.

In the immediate aftermath of the PATCO strike, many commentators predicted it would mark a turning point in the history of U.S. labor relations. A quarter century later, the strike’s importance is even easier to grasp. Just as the infamous Homestead strike set the tone for labor-capital conflict at the end of the nineteenth century, the PATCO strike helped establish the pattern for labor relations in the late twentieth century. Since that ill-fated walkout, organized labor has been in a state of continuous decline.