on strike, red stamp on a grunge paper texture

Tomorrow, March 8, is International Women’s Day and many are participating in a global strike called A Day Without a Woman. Here is what you need to know about this strike and the right to strike in general.

Why people are striking

The organizers of A Day Without a Woman aim to bring awareness to the daily economic and social inequities that women face, such as wage disparity, sexual harassment, and discrimination.

Those striking call for women to take the day off of their paid or unpaid work. Other ways for women to participate include refraining from housework, skipping shopping (in-store and online, with the exception of women-run businesses), and wearing red in solidarity.

What are employees’ rights?

The National Labor Relations Act protects employees’ right to strike but not all types of strikes are covered or legally protected. Some strike issues are more protected than others, depending on the purpose of said strike.

For example, if the purpose of the strike supports something illegal, employees may not be protected from termination or disciplinary action from their employer. Strikers protesting low wages or unfair working conditions cannot be fired, since employers have direct control in changing those issues.

Employees should review their handbooks and the NLRA protections to fully understand the ramifications of their choice to strike.

What are employers’ rights?

Employers have the right to make decisions on employee conduct based on what the National Labor Relations Board calls “lawful and neutrally applied work rules.” This means that employers can discipline employees who do not show up for work, following what is outlined in their employee handbooks.

If workers are striking in protest of something that their employer has control over, the employees may be protected by law from employer retaliation. However, at-will employment law in many states allows workers to be terminated at any time, without reason or notice. For example, after the Day Without Immigrants strike earlier this year, many workers were let go for failing to show up for work.

The purpose of strikes is to bring awareness to workers’ issues. Employees and employers should be aware of their rights, responsibilities, and consequences in these cases and continue to work towards peaceful interactions.   

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