A strike occurs when a labor union cannot reach an agreement with the employer. Once the bargaining parties cannot agree, a union has the option to call a strike. If the workers agree, they leave their jobs and usually picket outside the company or plant to illustrate the employer's unfairness. Nonunion employees cannot strike because only a union may legally call a strike.   

What Are My Rights as a Striker?

The right to strike is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution. Freedom of speech gives striking workers the right to picket and conduct other strike activities.   

Can an Employee Strike Ever Be Illegal?

Though union employees have a right to strike, not all strikes are legal. Here are some types of illegal strikes:

  • Violent strikes - no violence is allowed in any type of strike
  • "Sit down" strikes - A sit-down strike is when employees strike by staying in the plant and not working
  • Wildcat strikes - when a minority of workers calls their own strike. This kind of strike is illegal because only a union may call a strike
  • Picketing - employees can picket outside a company or plant; however, they cannot deny entrance to replacement workers or management
  • Secondary boycotts - a strike directed at someone other than the strikers' employer

Can an Employer Hire Workers to Replace Employees on Strike?

When employees strike, employers have the right to continue business. Employers may find substitute workers and may even give them permanent positions. 

How is a Strike Different from a Lockout?

A lockout is an employer's version of a strike.  A lockout occurs when the employer shuts down its company or plant. Lockouts are legal only if the employer can show some economic justification. This prevents employers from using lockouts to wrongfully pressure unions or employees.   

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Employee Strike Problem?

A strike can be a tense situation. An experienced employment attorney can help you understand you rights and responsibilities as a union member or an employer. A labor lawyer can also advise you of any compensation you may be entitled to.