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Work Stoppages
Bureau of Labor Statistics > Work Stoppages > About > Questions and Answers

Questions and Answers

    1. What is a work stoppage?
      • A work stoppage is a strike or a lockout.
    2. What is a strike?
      • A strike is a temporary stoppage of work by a group of workers (not necessarily union members) to express a grievance or enforce a demand. A strike is initiated by the workers of an establishment.
    3. What is a lockout?
      • A lockout is a temporary withholding or denial of employment during a labor dispute in order to enforce terms of employment upon a group of employees. A lockout is initiated by the management of an establishment.
    4. What data does the BLS supply on work stoppages?
      • The Work Stoppages program provides monthly and annual data and analysis of major work stoppages involving 1,000 or more workers 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, and the days of idleness. The monthly data lists all work stoppages involving 1,000 or more workers that occurred during the full calendar month for each month of the year. The annual data provides statistics, analysis, and details of each work stoppage of 1,000 or more workers that occurred during the year.
    5. What are the differences or similarities between the BLS work stoppages and the BLS strike report?
      • The work stoppages program reference period is the entire calendar month whereas the strike report reference period is the pay period that includes the 12th of the month. The BLS strike report includes strikes that cover 1,000 or more workers, the same as the work stoppages program.
    6. How are "work days" defined?
      • Work days are defined as the weekdays Monday through Friday excluding Federal holidays.
    7. How are "days idle this month" defined?
      • The term "days idled this month" is the total number of working days lost during the work stoppage in the month multiplied by the number of workers participating in the work stoppage.
    8. How are "days idle, cumulative" defined?
      • "Days idle, cumulative" is the total number of working days lost multiplied by the number of workers occurring over the entire span of the work stoppage, often over a period of months.
    9. Where do I find data on work stoppages with less than 1,000 workers?
    10. How can I get historical information?
    11. How are the data collected?
      • Information on work stoppages is obtained from reports from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, state labor market information offices, BLS Strike Report from the Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, and from media sources. Parties involved in the work stoppage (employer, association, union) are contacted to verify the duration and number of workers idled by the stoppage.
    12. Do you have foreign work stoppage information?
    13. What has happened to the BLS collective bargaining agreements program?
    14. How do I get union membership data?
    15. How do I get Labor Management (LM) forms?
    16. How do I get prevailing wage data under the Davis-Bacon Act?
      • Prevailing wage determinations for contracts subject to the Davis Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA) or McNamara-O'Hara Service Contract Act (SCA) should be obtained using the Wage Determinations Online program. The DBRA cover federal, District of Columbia, or federally assisted construction contracts. The SCA applies to federal and District of Columbia service contracts. Both programs are administered by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor. More details about the DBRA are available from the DBRA home page; additional information about the SCA can be found on the SCA website.
    17. Why does the BLS not include strike threats in its strike reports?
      • The purpose of the Strike Report produced by the BLS Current Employment Statistics (CES) program is to provide data users with insight into effects that strikes might possibly have on CES estimates—a Principal Federal Economic Indicator (PFEI). The report is not an estimate of the number of strikers, and survey respondent data are not used in its production. Instead, it is an aggregation of publicly available data compiled to provide supplemental information about CES estimates. This is why the report conforms to CES employment definitions; specifically, to be included, strikers must be out for the entirety of the pay period that includes the 12th of the month. Because strike threat information would not provide insight into CES estimates, including it in the strike report would not serve the purpose of the report.
      • In addition, the Work Stoppages program has provided the number of work stoppages beginning in the reference period, number of workers involved, and days idle (number and percent of estimated working time) since 1947. The Work Stoppages program uses strike threats throughout the month to monitor work stoppage activity. However, the program is unable to identify all threats because many do not receive press coverage and only a small number of threats result in work stoppages each month.
    18. Why does the BLS not count strike threats and strikes in all workplaces, regardless of the number of employees?
      • The CES Strike Report does currently include strikes in all workplaces; it is the total number of strikers rather than the size of the workplace that is the criteria for inclusion. Only strikes involving more than 1,000 workers are included in the report. This, again, is due to the report’s purpose of providing insight into CES data. Since CES estimates round to thousands of workers, strikes of fewer than 1,000 have little meaningful effect on employment data. Including these strikes in the report, therefore, would not serve to further an understanding of CES data.
      • The Work Stoppages program does not have the resources to monitor strikes involving fewer than 1,000 workers. However, the Federal Mediation and Conciliatory Service provides information about notices of dispute and work stoppages for all establishment sizes in private industry.
    19. Is it mandatory for employers and unions to report data related to strike threats, lockouts, and other strike-related activities?
      • In most states, BLS does not have the authority to compel employers or unions to report data to BLS. The CES data collection forms indicate that responding to the CES survey is mandatory only in three states and Puerto Rico. Therefore, mandating the reporting of strike-related data would require considerable statutory changes at the state and federal levels.
    20. Where do I find more information about the methods and history of the work stoppages program?

 

Last Modified Date: February 3, 2021