The diminishing risk of union strikes

Bureau of Labor Statistics
Major US work stoppages (1947-2009)

Looking at the latest annual release of the Bureau of Labor Statistics Major Work Stoppages report, it’s a wonder workers unions hold any sway over politics or policy these days.

Certainly, as the data shows, union strikes and lockouts are no longer posing any functional risk to private industry. (Click here for a larger image of the chart.)

For the full year 2009, there were only five major strikes (strikes affecting 1000 or more workers) three of which consisted of state and local government workers with the other two affecting only 4000 private workers over relatively short periods resulting in a total of 73,500 idle work days.

Although this is by far the lowest number of major work stoppages on record, looking back at the trend of the last 25 years, the result is not very surprising.

Of course, it’s important to consider the fact that many of the jobs traditionally associated to the periods of greater union activity seen between the 40s – 70s essentially don’t exist anymore.

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