New York Times (01/23/12) Steven Greenhouse
Employers are increasingly turning to lockouts to press their unionized workers to grant concessions after contract negotiations deadlock. “This is a sign of increased employer militancy,” says Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University. “Lockouts were once so rare they were almost unheard of. Now, not only are employers increasingly on the offensive and trying to call the shots in bargaining, but they’re backing that up with action—in the form of lockouts.”
The number of strikes has declined to just one-sixth the annual level of two decades ago, largely because labor unions’ ranks have declined and because many workers worry that if they strike they will lose pay and might also lose their jobs to permanent replacement workers. Lockouts, meanwhile, have grown to represent a record percentage of the nation’s work stoppages, according to Bloomberg BNA. In 2011, at least 17 employers imposed lockouts, telling their workers not to show up until they were willing to accept management’s contract offer.