Work Stoppages: Concepts

The Work Stoppages program provides monthly and annual data on major work stoppages involving 1,000 or more workers and lasting one full shift or longer. The monthly and annual data show the establishment and union(s) involved in the work stoppage along with the location, the number of workers involved, and the days of idleness. The monthly data show all work stoppages involving 1,000 or more workers that began or were in effect for each month of the year. The annual data releases provide statistics, analysis, and details of each work stoppage of 1,000 or more workers that occurred during the year. Definitions are provided below on the key work stoppage program concepts and terms.

Major work stoppage

A strike or lockout involving 1,000 or more workers and lasting for at least one full shift in establishments directly involved in a stoppage. Because of the complexity of most labor-management disputes, the Work Stoppages program makes no attempt to distinguish between strikes and lockouts in its statistics. The workers involved in a strike or lockout may or may not be members of a union. Production slowdowns (a deliberate slowing of pace by workers) or worker protests generally do not meet the criteria for inclusion as a work stoppage.

Strike

A temporary stoppage of work by a group of employees to express a grievance, enforce a demand, or protest the terms, conditions, or provisions of a contract.

Lockout

A temporary denial of employment by management, typically during a labor dispute.

Beginning date

Date on which the work stoppage officially begins. The day may not count in the calculations if it does not include a full shift by workers involved in the work stoppage or falls on a weekend or federal holiday.

Ending date

Date on which the work stoppage is ended, based on initial (tentative) agreement by both parties. The ending date may not be the actual contract ratification date or the date workers return to work, which may lag the date of initial agreement.

Industry

The primary economic activity of an establishment. The 2017 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is used to classify establishments belonging to a particular industry.

Workday

Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays.

Lost workdays

The number of workdays lost for the purposes of performing regular job duties by workers involved in the work stoppage. If applicable, the cumulative number of lost workdays also is computed for each work stoppage beyond the beginning reference month.

Number of workers involved

Workers who are directly involved in the work stoppage as well as those idled for related reasons, such as their facility is closed down during the stoppage. This number does not account for secondary idleness—that is, the effects of a stoppage on other establishments or industries whose employees may be made idle as a result of shortages of material or services.

Days of idleness

Days that an employee is scheduled to work (Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays), but does not work due to a work stoppage (i.e., lost workday). The number of total days of idleness is computed by multiplying the number of workers idled by the number of lost workdays during the reference month. If applicable, the cumulative number of days of idleness is computed for each work stoppage beyond the beginning reference month.

Stoppages “beginning”

Monthly or annual reference period when the work stoppage begins. Data are provided for both the number of work stoppages, number of workers, and days idle. 

Stoppages “in effect”

Work stoppage continuing during either a monthly or annual period. Work stoppages begin in a particular reference period, but are considered in effect during one or more monthly or annual reference period (i.e. rollover). The work stoppages program provides in effect estimates for both the number of work stoppages, number of workers, and days idle.

Last Modified Date: January 23, 2019