School me on minority strikes
February 6, 2016 8:48 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for inspiring examples of minority strikes throughout the history of the US and world. Talking about situations in which workers didn't have the majority of their co workers but walked off the job because of working conditions. Best if they're non-union to begin with. This will add to the inspiration of a pretty courageous group of workers who is talking about doing the same and draws courage from each other and from other brave souls in history. Thanks for any suggestions!
posted by sb3 to Human Relations (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't have a specific answer for you, but I know I've learnt a lot from environmental/labor historian Erik Loomis's regular blog feature This Day in Labor History. If I were you I would trawl through his extensive archives for relevant cases. Most of his examples are from the US and I don't know that many fit your description, but there are 170 of them--and some are quite inspirational.
posted by col_pogo at 2:47 PM on February 6, 2016

I don't know any examples to share with you because majority strikes are already a very difficult tactic to use successfully. In the US today (where I'm based), I'd rank the strike pretty low on a list of useful labor tactics.

It's hard for me to imagine a situation where a minority of workers in a shop would achieve or even advance their goals by striking. As you probably known, strikes have succeeded traditionally because they deprived the employer of labor by 1) having most current workers stop working, and 2) picketing/guarding the workplace to prevent someone else from doing the workplace. This is most effective in situations where the employer has a high capital investment in the worksite, and they can't easily replace the production elsewhere, or the workers themselves have highly specialized skills, to the same effect. Most jobs today don't fit either category - if these workers are an exception, I'd be interested to hear it.

In my experience, employers have hesitated to fire the leaders of a strike only because they have the support of their co-workers, and they don't want to lose complete control of the workplace. In my opinion, a "minority strike" isn't a strike - it's a clique of malcontents who will all get fired. In the US, there are no good options for workers fired for organizing - yes, you can go to the NLRB and push for reinstatement, but that's fighting to a draw, at best, and you'll return to a hostile workplace, often defeated.

I understand the appeal of striking, but you have a thousand other tactics at your disposal, and I would encourage you to focus on bringing the others in the workplace into your camp before attempting overt collective action. Bravery isn't enough - we need to be smart and hungry to create real change. Good luck!

ps. Thanks for asking this question - it encouraged me to finally register a MeFi account after 8+ years of lurking!
posted by roll away the dew at 2:31 PM on February 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

« Older what cheese for ema datse   |   Beautiful piano playing please Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.