Strikes, Lockouts Hit Six-Year High in 2000

February 13, 2001 ( - Employers had to dust off their contingency manuals last year, as work stoppages went from an all time-low in 1999 to a six-year high in 2000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number of work stoppages involving at least 1,000 workers surged from 1999’s all-time low of 17 to a six-year high of 39 strikes or lockouts last year, according to BNA.

The 39 work stoppages idled 394,000 workers and cost 20 million workdays lost – more than four times the average of 4.57 million workdays lost annually during the 1990s.
Past Perspective

However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that the 20 million idled workdays was 0.06% of the estimated total working time for the year, roughly half of the annual average of the 1970s and less than a third of the average time lost of the 1950s.

Last year’s surge was largely attributable to the 183-day strike of 135,000 actors against the American Association of Advertising Agencies, which added up to 84% of the idle workdays.

The second-largest impact was an 18-day strike against Verizon Communications by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers put 85,000 workers on the sidelines and cost 955,000 lost workdays.

The annual number of work stoppages peaked at 470 in 1952, idling 2.7 million workers and resulting in 48.8 million lost workdays, according to the BNA summary.

BLS said the average length of work stoppages last year was 21 days, but most lasted less than three weeks, and just 10% lasted longer than 50 days.