By DON McINTOSH
At least 23 major work stoppages broke out last year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Feb. 22—up from 16 the previous year.
The numbers come from an annual BLS report on “major work stoppages” that dates back to 1947. BLS refers to both worker strikes and employer lockouts as “work stoppages.” But since the early 1980s, it has only counted “major” work stoppages, defined as 1,000 or more workers. It also only counts work stoppages that last at least one shift during the Monday through Friday work week, excluding federal holidays.
From the 1950s to the 1970s, there were hundreds of large work stoppages a year. The all-time record strike year was 1952, with 470 large work stoppages. But strikes fell off dramatically in the 1980s, and reached an all-time low of five in 2009. Since a teacher strike wave that started in 2018, strikes seem to have bounced back—a little.