The U.S. had the highest number of workers go on strike in more than 30 years as the number of major work stoppages across the U.S. rose to its highest level in over a decade, according to year-end data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
In 2018, there were 20 major work stoppages involving 485,000 workers, the highest since 2007 when there were 21 major work stoppages. The number of workers involved was the highest since 1986 when there were 533,000 workers that were idle.
Nationwide, educational services and health care and social assistance industry groups accounted for over 90% of all workers idled in 2018. Between 2009 and 2018 the educational services and health care and social assistance industries accounted for nearly one half of all major work stoppages, BLS data shows.
In 2018, the largest work stoppage by days idle was between the Arizona State Legislature and Arizona Education Association where 81,000 teachers and staff took off more than 486,000 days. The second largest stoppage in 2018 involved the Oklahoma State Legislature and the Oklahoma Education Association accounting for 405,000 days idle. Statewide major work stoppages in educational services also occurred in West Virginia, Kentucky, Colorado, and North Carolina.
The longest major work stoppage beginning in 2018 involved National Grid and the United Steelworkers Locals 12003 and 12012 accounting for 156,000 days idle. The National Grid work stoppage began on June 25, 2018 and was ongoing thru 2018. Other notable major work stoppages beginning in 2018 involved the Marriott Corporation and the University of California Medical Centers.
Since 1981, there has been a significant reduction in the number of annual major work stoppages. Differences between major work stoppages “beginning” and “in effect” result from disputes that are continuing from the prior year. The largest difference occurred in 1985 with 54 major work stoppages “beginning” in the year and 61 “in effect.” The series low for major work stoppages was 5 in 2009.
To review the BLS data, click here.