In One Chart: Picket lines are a thing of the past, as work stoppages slump to second-lowest level ever

In One Chart: Picket lines are a thing of the past, as work stoppages slump to second-lowest level ever
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Following a rally in Brooklyn's Cadman Plaza Park, hundreds of union members marched across the Brooklyn Bridge in support of IBEW Local 3 in its dispute with Charter Communications.

The death of unions is not a new story, but recently released data put into perspective just how much the dynamic between workers and management has changed.


According to the Labor Department, work stoppages involving at least 1,000 workers fell in 2017 to the second-lowest level ever.


There were just seven work stoppages in 2017, involving 25,000 workers. The Labor Department counts both strikes and lockouts in its data.


As recently as 2000, there were 39 major work stoppages. In the 1970s, there were hundreds per year.

The largest major work stoppage in 2017 by days idle occurred between Charter Communications CHTR, -0.77%   and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union with 345,600 total days idle and involving 1,800 workers. AT&T T, -0.66%   and the Communications Workers of America had a stoppage involving 13,200 workers and lasting one day.


The weak union representation of Americans — only 6.5% of private-sector workers are union members — is considered one factor why wage growth has been historically weak. Recent economic data showing 2.9% growth in average hourly wages spooked the bond market, but historically, wages grow between 3% and 4% during an expansion.


Also read: Workers are down $10 trillion, and the stock market is worried about a 9-cent an hour raise?