Wildcat strike action

A wildcat strike action, often referred to as a wildcat strike, is a strike action undertaken by unionized workers without union leadership's authorization, support, or approval; this is sometimes termed an unofficial industrial action. Wildcat strikes were the key pressure tactic utilized during the May 1968 protests in France.

The black "wildcat" or "sabo-cat" of the Industrial Workers of the World, also adopted as a symbol by anarcho-syndicalists

By country


On March 23, 2012, Air Canada ground employees suddenly walked off the job at Toronto Pearson International Airport, resulting in many flight delays, after three workers were suspended for heckling Canadian Labour Minister Lisa Raitt. This followed months of fighting between Air Canada and its other unions.[1]

United States of America

Wildcat strikes have been considered illegal in the United States since 1935.[2] The 1932 Norris-La Guardia Act held that clauses in labor contracts barring employees from joining unions were not enforceable, thus granting employees the right to unionize regardless of their workplace situation. Unions have the power to bargain collectively on behalf of their members and to call for strikes demanding concessions from employers. Under the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), federal courts have held that wildcat strikes are illegal and that employers may fire workers participating in them.[2]

Nevertheless, US workers can formally request that the National Labor Relations Board end their association with their labor union, if they feel that the union is not adequately representing their interests. At this point, any strike action taken by the workers may be termed a wildcat strike, but there is no illegality involved, as there is no longer a conflict between sections 7 and 9(a) of the NLRA.

Some strikes that begin as wildcat actions, such as the Memphis Sanitation Strike and Baltimore municipal strike of 1974, are later supported by their respective unions' leadership (who then begin fulfilling their obligation to collectively bargain for their worker-members).


In Vietnam, all workers are required to join a union connected to the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, a government-controlled entity. Due to workers' distrust of this agency, nearly all strikes in the country are wildcat strikes.[3]

Notable wildcat strikes

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There are some cases where union recognition of a strike is complicated. For example, during the year-long British miners' strike of 1984-5, the national executive supported the strike but many area councils regarded the strike as unofficial, as most ballots at area level had produced majority votes against the strike and no ballot was ever taken at national level.[5]

See also


  1. ". Retrieved 23 March 2012.
  2. 1 2 "Wildcat Strike." In West's Encyclopedia of American Law. Farmington Hills, Mich.: The Gale Group, Inc, 2004. ISBN 0-7876-6367-0. Retrieved 11 January 2008.
  3. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/09/03/labor_day_in_hell?page=0,13 retrieved 6 September 2010. Archived September 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. "Wages error sparked 1970 strike". St. Helens Reporter. England. 9 April 2014. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  5. Amos, David (December 2011). "THE NOTTINGHAMSHIRE MINERS', THE UNION OF DEMOCRATIC MINEWORKERS AND THE 1984-85 MINERS STRIKE: SCABS OR SCAPEGOATS?" (PDF). University of Nottingham. pp. 292–295. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
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