Employee Rights to Strike and Picket

The NLRA not only guarantees the right of employees to strike, but also places limitations and qualifications on how employees exercise that right. For example, restrictions exist against “secondary strikes” and strikes against health care institutions.

The lawfulness of a strike may depend on the object or purpose of the strike, its timing or the conduct of the strikers. The object(s) of a strike and whether they are lawful are matters not always easy to determine. The status is critical to both striking employees and employers facing a strike because it determines rights to reinstatement and back pay.

Strikes for a lawful object fall into two classes:

  • Economic; and
  • Unfair labor practices.

Both classes of strikers retain employee status, but unfair labor practice strikers have greater rights of reinstatement to their jobs.

See “Striking or Picketing a Health Care Institution Without Notice” in Unfair Labor Practices of Unions.