Contemporary Unionism in the United States

By Clyde E. Dankert | Go to book overview

23
Union Weapons (2)

Duration and Results of Strikes

Duration. Strikes are temporary stoppages of work. Although they are all temporary, there is no uniformity in the degree of "temporariness" they possess. In terms of duration they may stretch all the way from a day (or less) to many weeks.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor has collected data on strikes for some years, and its compilations throw revealing light on various aspects of work stoppages including the matter of duration. According to the findings of the Bureau the average duration of the 12,157 strikes of which it had record which occurred from 1927 to 1936 was 22 days. The average duration was highest in 1928 and lowest in 1933, the figures for these years being 27.6 days and 16.9 days respectively.1

As one would expect, strikes that occur in years of depression, like 1933, are generally shorter than strikes that take place in years of prosperity, like 1928. The workers' powers of persistence are not as strong in hard times as they are during good times.

During World War II the average duration of strikes was much shorter than it was in the pre-war years. Almost all of the strikes during the war period were unauthorized, "wildcat" strikes and were generally settled within a relatively short space of time. In 1945 the average duration was 9.9 days; in 1944 it was 5.6; in 1943 it was 5.0; and in 1942 it was 11.7.

Our second conclusion, and it, too, is an obvious one, is that wartime strikes are shorter than peacetime strikes. There is an inverse relationship between military conflict and industrial conflict.

Results. Ordinarily the outcome of a strike cannot be definitely foreseen when the workers "lay down their tools." If it could be foreseen, the stoppage

____________________
1
The statistical data in the present section relating to strikes in 1936 and earlier years are from Strikes in the United States, 1880-1936, Bulletin No. 651, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 1938.

-405-

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