CHART: Labor Strikes Become Rare As Employers Gain The Upper Hand

According to an analysis of Current Population Survey data by Matt Bruenig, the number of workers exercising their right to strike has plummeted since the 1970s:

Forty years ago, “an average of 289 major work stoppages involving 1,000 or more workers occurred annually in the United States. By the 1990s, that had fallen to about 35 per year. And in 2009, there were no more than five.” Declining unionization certainly plays a role in this drop, but as Chris Rhomberg, associate professor of sociology at Fordham University, wrote, so too does labor law that gives employers all the advantages. “We have essentially gone back to a pre-New Deal era of workplace governance,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, lockouts — when management bars employees from working — are on the upswing, and now “represent a record percentage of the nation’s work stoppages,” according to Bloomberg BNA.

As the number of union workers has declined in recent years, so too has the middle-class’ share of income. Income inequality has spiked during the same timeframe. Bucking the trend, workers at Walmart and New York City fast food establishments, as well as Chicago’s teachers, recently walked off the job in protest of working conditions.