• The Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”) released data on the number of strikes and lockouts that occurred during 2012. The number of workers involved in strikes or lockouts increased for the third consecutive year by 35,000 to 148,000 total. In 2012, employees lost 1,131,000 working days due to strikes or lockouts, the highest number since 2008. Nineteen strikes or lockouts met the BLS’ definition of a “major work stoppage” – i.e., one that involves 1,000 or more employees. The longest-running major work stoppage in 2012 was an 18-month lockout by the American Crystal Sugar Company against members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers union. Another major lockout, which ended in February 2012, following ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement, was instituted by the Cooper Tire and Rubber against members of the United Steelworkers. The industries with the most major work stoppages were: health care (8), education (3), and manufacturing (3). Other significant work stoppages in 2012 included a 3,600 member, nine-week strike by members of the IAM against Lockheed Martin, a three and one-half month IAM strike against Caterpillar Inc. in Joliet, Illinois, and a seven-day strike by the Chicago Teachers Union against the Chicago Public Schools.
  • Eight-thousand New York City school bus drivers and drivers’ aides with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 suspended a month-long strike against the city. The workers struck in response to the city’s inquiries about obtaining contracts with school bus companies that would not include job security promises. For over 30 years, school bus companies’ contracts with the city have included job security promises to employ the Local 1181’s drivers and drivers’ aids. In the week before the strike suspension announcement, the city received its first proposals for new contracts with school bus companies in over 30 years. Local 1181 has stated that it will renew its case to preserve its workers’ job security when a new mayor takes office in January 2014.
  • Over 600 HealthBridge Management employees at five nursing homes in Connecticut suspended an eight-month-long strike subject to the provisions in their previous labor contract. The employees, represented by the SEIU-affiliated New England Health Care Employees Union District 1199, initiated the strike in response to the company’s unilateral implementation of contract changes after the parties negotiated unsuccessfully for 17 months. The NLRB subsequently sought and obtained a Section 10(j) injunction under the NLRA, which required the company to reinstate striking workers under the terms of their previous labor contract and re-start negotiations with the union. After the Second Circuit Court of Appeals denied HealthBridge’s motion to stay the injunction in January, HealthBridge submitted emergency petitions to the United States Supreme Court to stay the injunction until the Second Circuit could rule on the validity of the NLRB’s recess appointments. HealthBridge argued that the NLRB’s injunction was potentially invalid because the Board that issued the injunction lacked a quorum without the recess-appointees. See Noel Canning v. NLRB (Winston & Strawn’s briefing on this decision is available here). Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia separately denied the emergency petitions. While HealthBridge and the union have not yet re-started negotiations, a union representative stated that the negotiations will begin once the employees return to work in March 2013.
  • Mitsui USA’s subsidiary United Grain Corp. locked out members of the International Longshore Warehouse Union (”ILWU”) Local 4 from working at its Port of Vancouver, Washington grain export terminal. United Grain imposed the lockout after ILWU members attempted to damage company equipment and disrupt the company’s operations. Tensions have been high between United Grain and the union since contract negotiations broke down in December 2012. At that time, the Grain Handlers (a multi-employer association that includes United Grain) declared impasse and implemented its last, best contract offer. However, one member of the Grain Handlers, TEMCO LLC, continued to negotiate with the union and reached a separate agreement. This agreement was announced the same day that United Grain imposed the lockout, which union members stated was “no coincidence.” United Grain stated that during the lockout it will employ replacement and management workers to compensate for the loss of between eight and 22 union members that normally work at the terminal in two shifts.