wikiHow to Go on Strike

Two Parts:Planning the StrikeStriking

If you and your co-workers think that you are getting paid unfair wages, or feel like your place of employment is treating you poorly, you may want to consider going on strike. Striking is a serious matter that must be approached with the right information and a smart plan. You should also be aware that only employees that are part of a labor union can go on strike. If you are a nonunion employee, there are other ways to negotiate with employers, including concerted activity and forming employee committees.

Part 1
Planning the Strike

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    Contact your national union if you are affiliated with one. If you are a part of a national union or another overseeing organization, you will need to contact them before you go on strike. The union will be able to give you suggestions, as well as outlining any requirements your strike might need to meet in order to have the support of the union.
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    Consider the different types of strikes. Various methods of striking exist, all of which have been met with both success and failure. The method you select will be up to your situation’s details.
    • Picketing: This is when employees create signs or ‘pickets’ declaring their goals and the faults of their employer. They stand out in front of the business and will often chant or sing songs about the bad pay or unfair labor practices. This is generally regarded as one of the more effective forms of striking. Picketing can also be used as a way to spread information about your cause before a strike even occurs.[1]
    • Good work strikes: This type of strike is generally used in the service industry. Workers continue to do their jobs, but for free or cheaply. For example, bus drivers in Portugal who were demanding a pay increase gave free rides to all of their passengers. In this way, they forced their employers to lose money while gaining public support.
    • Sick-ins: This is when all of the employees of a certain company or department call in sick on the same day, effectively shutting down the business. This method has been used in the past at hospitals and other medical centers.
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    Understand the repercussions of striking. Employers do not have to shutdown the workplace during a strike. In fact, they are legally allowed to hire replacement workers to fill in the spots left vacant by strikers. Before you begin planning your strike, look at what you are striking for. The reason behind your strike can affect whether or not you get to keep your job after the strike it over.
    • If you are striking against an unfair labor practice: If you are planning a strike because your employer is promoting an unfair labor practice--such as interfering with the formation of a labor organization--you cannot be permanently replaced or fired for striking. After the strike, you will be reinstated into the position you held before the strike.[2]
    • If you are striking for economic reasons: there is a chance you will not be reinstated into the position you held before the strike. While you can’t technically be fired, your employer can hire someone to fill your place during the strike. After the strike, you may be placed on a call-back list as jobs open up rather than immediately having your job back.[3]
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    Spread the word to other workers. Chances are, there are many other employees as dissatisfied with your employer as you are. Try to get as many people as you can to be involved in your labor movement. Try to approach labor leaders at city and state levels. You may also find community groups and organizations that are sympathetic to your cause.
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    Create a general strike committee. This committee will essentially be running the show--it will form the other committees (listed in the next step), hire an attorney and deal with legal issues if needed, making the major decisions and recording the events and details of the strike, among other responsibilities. In summary, the general strike committee plans, forms, and leads the strike.
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    Assign members to specific task forces. Remember that you do not have to follow these directions exactly--the committees you form should be based on your specific needs. For instance, you might consider combining the publicity and fundraising committees. However you decide to set up your committees, select individuals, or ask for volunteers, that are well-suited to the duties required of each committee.
    • Create a negotiating committee. This committee is made up of the people that will directly deal with the employers. They will present the demands of the strikers, negotiate with employers, and will work with the general committee to solidify an agreement with the employers.
    • Form a picketing committee. If you are planning a picketing strike, you will need one of these committees. They will pick a captain for each picketing group, form a plan and schedule for when the picketing will occur and what will happen during that time, provide strikers with picket signs, and keep the picket lines legal and orderly.
    • Form a publicity committee. This group helps to communicate the goals and reasons for striking to both the public and workers. They might update strikers on any changes in the negotiation, increasing public awareness through pamphlets, emails and other means, stopping any rumors and misinformation, and getting the media to cover the strike.
    • Set up a financial/fundraising committee. This group creates a strike fund and manages that fund throughout the duration of the strike. They can also create a load fund to help strikers pay for rent etc., talking to sympathetic health care providers to help cover strikers’ medical needs, and sending a form to landlords explaining the situation and asking them to be lenient with strikers’ payments.
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    Create a budget. Before a strike, it is important to organize a fund that will help to pay for the costs of a strike. In general, the financial committee will create a budget that will then get approved by the general committee. Remember to include budget factors like:
    • Advertising expenses.
    • Legal expenses such as those for bailing picketers out of jail or handling court injunctions.
    • Financial assistance for strikers that might include things like help with transportation, rent, or food.
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    Create a list of demands and set a deadline for when these demands must be met. It is of the utmost importance that everyone agrees on the goal of the strike. You need to make clear what you want the strike to achieve and why you are striking. You must also have a solid argument explaining why you want what you want.
    • Make sure that you include a demand for a guarantee that workers who go on strike will not be punished for being a part of the strike.

Part 2
Striking

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    Negotiate as much as you can before you strike. Always try to negotiate with your employer before you go on strike. You may find that your employer is more open to finding a way to make both the company and employees happy.[4]
    • You can consider hiring a professional negotiator to represent you and the other employees while in discussions with your employer.
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    Raise public awareness. Pass out flyers and pamphlets letting the other people in your community know what is going on at your place of employment and why you are striking. If the public gets behind your cause, they can apply pressure that may help to twist your employer’s arm, so to speak, into negotiating with you.
    • Employ social media to your advantage. Send out any email to members of your community, create a Facebook page and Twitter account to document your strike, and take pictures via other social media platforms to spread the word about your situation.
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    Keep the workers on strike motivated. Striking can be very difficult--particularly on workers who rely on their wages to support their families and pay their bills. It is important to keep morale up while striking. Come up with some impassioned chants, bring in strike speakers to give speeches to both strikers and the public, and take care of your own--compassion for the other strikers goes a long way towards creating a truly strong camaraderie.
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    Document your strike area and keep it peaceful. Employers can claim that strikers are getting violent or blocking entrances to the business. These claims can lead to strikers being forced back to work. To combat these claims, make sure that your strike is peaceful, orderly and safe. Take videos and pictures of your strike, showing that you are not blocking any entrances and that your group is orderly but passionate.[5]
    • Make sure to take a video of your strike anytime a member of your opposition is around--these videos will show that your strike is respectful but passionate about your cause.
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    Handle any injunctions that are thrown at you. As stated in the previous step, employers can force strikers to go back to work if they get an injunction against the strike. An injunction is an order that requires a defendant to refrain from doing something. In the case of a strike, an injunction could be taken against the striking workers, ordering them to refrain from refusing to go to work.[6]
    • If you have an injunction taken against you, make sure that you have legal representation. Now is the time to use your pictures and videos taken of your strike, showing that you are not blocking any entrances to the business and that you are being peaceful.
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    Negotiate until you can agree upon an acceptable conclusion. Depending on your situation, this could take a day, weeks, or even months. You must also know that there is a possibility that your efforts will not work. If you don’t succeed during this strike, and you still feel that your place of employment is not treating you fairly, organize another strike.

Tips

  • Be aware that some forms of striking are illegal. In particular, sit-in strikes--in which employees occupy the workspace--are illegal.
  • Do not block anyone from entering or exiting your place of employment. It is illegal to do so.
  • Before going on strike, always peacefully Try to work it out with your manager first.

Warnings

  • Know that there can be serious repercussions to striking, such as job loss, loss of benefits, and even being jailed if illegal means of striking are used.

Article Info

Categories: Job Strategies