DEFINITION of 'Official Strike'

An official strike is a work stoppage by union members that is endorsed by the union and that follows the legal requirements for striking, such as being voted on by a majority of union members. Workers engaging in official strikes have better protections against being fired. An official strike is usually undertaken by employees as a last resort in response to grievances. An official strike may also be called an official industrial action, a strike action or a strike.

BREAKING DOWN 'Official Strike'

A famous official strike in the United States was the 1994 Major League Baseball strike, which canceled the end of the regular season and the entire postseason. Some of the replacement players who played during 1995 spring training, when the strike had not yet ended, remained in the major leagues, but were not allowed union membership. One reason this is important is union players receive a certain percentage of Major League Baseball revenues, because MLB licenses players' names and images for items like jerseys and baseball cards. Nonunion members do not receive this benefit.

How Strikes Are Undertaken

Strikes are undertaken as part of the collective bargaining process that goes on between labor unions and employers in order to determine wages, benefits, working conditions, and in the case of public servants, legislation governing said services. Generally, union members will vote to go on strike when other bargaining tactics have failed. When workers decide to strike without the approval of a union, it is called a wildcat strike. A wildcat strike may be undertaken when a union refuses to endorse a strike action, or because the striking workers do not have a union; such a strike may not offer workers the same protections as an official strike undertaken with formal union authorization.

Typically, striking workers refuse to go to work and may instead form a picket line outside the place of work in order to hinder the employer’s normal business or stop strikebreakers from crossing the picket line to go to work. Sometimes, workers conduct a strike by occupying the workplace, but refusing to complete their normal tasks and also refusing to leave the premises; such a strike is known as a sit-down strike. Where employees are public servants, picketing may take place, not at the workplace, but where lawmakers meet, such as in the West Virginia public school teachers’ strike of 2018.

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