Strike action
Overview
 
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve (of French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

: grève), or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievance
Grievance
A grievance is a wrong or hardship suffered, which is the grounds of a complaint.-History and politics:A grievance may arise from injustice or tyranny, and be cause for rebellion or revolution....

s. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

, when mass labour
Labour economics
Labor economics seeks to understand the functioning and dynamics of the market for labor. Labor markets function through the interaction of workers and employers...

 became important in factories
Factory
A factory or manufacturing plant is an industrial building where laborers manufacture goods or supervise machines processing one product into another. Most modern factories have large warehouses or warehouse-like facilities that contain heavy equipment used for assembly line production...

 and mines
Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

. In most countries, they were quickly made illegal, as factory owners had far more political power than workers.
Timeline

1892    The Homestead Strike, a strike by the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers against the Carnegie Steel Company, begins.

1892    3,800 striking steelworkers engage in a day-long battle with Pinkerton agents during the Homestead Strike, leaving 10 dead and dozens wounded.

1892    The New Orleans general strike begins, uniting black and white American trade unionists in a successful four-day general strike action for the first time.

1894    In New York City, 12,000 tailors strike against sweatshop working conditions.

1902    In the United States, a five month strike by United Mine Workers ends.

1917    The Bisbee Deportation occurs as vigilantes kidnap and deport nearly 1,300 striking miners and others from Bisbee, Arizona.

1927    Columbine Mine Massacre: Striking coal miners are allegedly attacked with machine guns by a detachment of state police dressed in civilian clothes.

1934    The U.S. Auto-Lite Strike begins, culminating in a five-day melee between Ohio National Guard troops and 6,000 strikers and picketers.

1952    U.S. President Harry Truman calls for the seizure of all domestic steel mills to prevent a nationwide strike.

1981    Ronald Reagan fires 11,359 striking air-traffic controllers who ignored his order for them to return to work.

Encyclopedia
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve (of French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

: grève), or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievance
Grievance
A grievance is a wrong or hardship suffered, which is the grounds of a complaint.-History and politics:A grievance may arise from injustice or tyranny, and be cause for rebellion or revolution....

s. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

, when mass labour
Labour economics
Labor economics seeks to understand the functioning and dynamics of the market for labor. Labor markets function through the interaction of workers and employers...

 became important in factories
Factory
A factory or manufacturing plant is an industrial building where laborers manufacture goods or supervise machines processing one product into another. Most modern factories have large warehouses or warehouse-like facilities that contain heavy equipment used for assembly line production...

 and mines
Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

. In most countries, they were quickly made illegal, as factory owners had far more political power than workers. Most western countries partially legalized striking in the late 19th or early 20th centuries.

Strikes are sometimes used to put pressure on governments to change policies. Occasionally, strikes destabilise the rule of a particular political party or ruler. In such cases, strikes are often part of a broader social movement taking the form of a campaign of civil resistance
Civil resistance
The term civil resistance, alongside the term nonviolent resistance, is used to describe political action that relies on the use of non-violent methods by civil groups to challenge a particular power, force, policy or regime. Civil resistance operates through appeals to the adversary, pressure and...

. A notable example is the 1980 Gdańsk Shipyard
Gdansk Shipyard
Gdańsk Shipyard is a large Polish shipyard, located in the city of Gdańsk. The yard gained international fame when Solidarity was founded there in September 1980...

 strike led by Lech Wałęsa
Lech Wałęsa
Lech Wałęsa is a Polish politician, trade-union organizer, and human-rights activist. A charismatic leader, he co-founded Solidarity , the Soviet bloc's first independent trade union, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, and served as President of Poland between 1990 and 95.Wałęsa was an electrician...

. This strike was significant in the long campaign of civil resistance
Civil resistance
The term civil resistance, alongside the term nonviolent resistance, is used to describe political action that relies on the use of non-violent methods by civil groups to challenge a particular power, force, policy or regime. Civil resistance operates through appeals to the adversary, pressure and...

 for political change in Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, and was an important mobilised effort that contributed to the fall of the Iron Curtain
Iron Curtain
The concept of the Iron Curtain symbolized the ideological fighting and physical boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1989...

 and the end of communist party rule in eastern Europe.

History

The strike tactic has a very long history. Towards the end of the 20th dynasty
Twentieth dynasty of Egypt
The Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twentieth Dynasties of ancient Egypt are often combined under the group title, New Kingdom. This dynasty is considered to be the last one of the New Kingdom of Egypt, and was followed by the Third Intermediate Period....

, under Pharaoh Ramses III
Ramesses III
Usimare Ramesses III was the second Pharaoh of the Twentieth Dynasty and is considered to be the last great New Kingdom king to wield any substantial authority over Egypt. He was the son of Setnakhte and Queen Tiy-Merenese. Ramesses III is believed to have reigned from March 1186 to April 1155 BCE...

 in ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

 on 14 November 1152 BC, the artisans of the Royal Necropolis at Deir el-Medina organized the first known strike or workers' uprising in recorded history. The event was reported in detail on a papyrus
Papyrus
Papyrus is a thick paper-like material produced from the pith of the papyrus plant, Cyperus papyrus, a wetland sedge that was once abundant in the Nile Delta of Egypt....

 at the time, which has been preserved, and is currently located in Turin
Turin
Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River and surrounded by the Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is 909,193 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat...

. The strike is narrated by John Romer in Ancient Lives: The story of the Pharaohs' Tombmakers The strike so terrified the Egyptian authorities, as such rebellion was virtually unheard of, that they gave in and raised their wages.

The use of the English word "strike" first appeared in 1768, when sailors, in support of demonstrations in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, "struck" or removed the topgallant sail
Topgallant sail
On a square rigged sailing vessel, a topgallant sail is the square-rigged sail or sails immediately above the topsail or topsails. It is also known as a gallant or garrant sail....

s of merchant ships at port, thus crippling the ships. Official publications have typically used the more neutral words "work stoppage" or "industrial dispute".

In 1917, the Mexican Constitution was the first national constitution that constitutionally guaranteed the right to strike.

In 1937 there were 4,740 strikes in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. This was the greatest strike wave in US labor history. This outburst of strikes occurred during a period of deep depression and massive unemployment.

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966, and in force from January 3, 1976...

 adopted in 1967 ensure the right to strike at Article 8.

A list of strikes of historic significance may be found here.

Categories of strikes

Most strikes are undertaken by labor unions
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 during collective bargaining
Collective bargaining
Collective bargaining is a process of negotiations between employers and the representatives of a unit of employees aimed at reaching agreements that regulate working conditions...

. The object of collective bargaining is to obtain a contract (an agreement between the union and the company) which may include a no-strike clause which prevents strikes, or penalizes the union and/or the workers if they walk out while the contract is in force. The strike is typically reserved as a threat of last resort during negotiations between the company and the union, which may occur just before, or immediately after, the contract expires.

Sometimes a union will strike rather than sign an agreement with a no-strike clause. Such an action was documented in Harlan County, USA
Harlan County, USA
Harlan County, USA is an Oscar-winning 1976 documentary film covering the "Brookside Strike" or "Bloody Harlan", an effort of 180 coal miners and their wives against the Duke Power Company-owned Eastover Coal Company's Brookside Mine and Prep Plant in Harlan County, Kentucky in 1973...

, a video about a United Mine Workers strike.

In some industrial unions
Industrial unionism
Industrial unionism is a labor union organizing method through which all workers in the same industry are organized into the same union—regardless of skill or trade—thus giving workers in one industry, or in all industries, more leverage in bargaining and in strike situations...

, the no-strike clause is considered controversial.

Generally, strikes are rare: according to the News Media Guild
News Media Guild
The News Media Guild, formerly known as the Wire Service Guild, is local union 31222 of The Newspaper Guild, which is a sector of the Communications Workers of America....

, 98% of union contracts in the United States are settled each year without a strike. Occasionally, workers decide to strike without the sanction of a labor union, either because the union refuses to endorse such a tactic, or because the workers concerned are not unionized. Such strikes are often described as unofficial. Strikes without formal union authorization are also known as wildcat strikes
Wildcat strike action
A wildcat strike action, often referred to as a wildcat strike, is a strike action taken by workers without the authorization of their trade union officials. This is sometimes termed unofficial industrial action...

.

In many countries, wildcat strikes do not enjoy the same legal protections as recognized union strikes, and may result in penalties for the union members who participate or their union. The same often applies in the case of strikes conducted without an official ballot of the union membership, as is required in some countries such as the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

.

A strike may consist of workers refusing to attend work or picketing outside the workplace to prevent or dissuade people from working in their place or conducting business with their employer. Less frequently workers may occupy the workplace, but refuse either to do their jobs or to leave. This is known as a sit-down strike. A similar tactic is the work-in
Work-in
A work-in is a form of direct action, where a group of workers whose jobs are under threat resolve to remain in their place of employment and continue producing without pay...

, where employees occupy the workplace but still continue work, often without pay, which to attempts to show they are still useful, or that worker self-management can be successful. This occurred for instance with factory occupations in the Bienno Rossi strikes-the "two red years" of Italy from 1919-1920.

Another unconventional tactic is work-to-rule
Work-to-rule
Work-to-rule is an industrial action in which employees do no more than the minimum required by the rules of their contract, and follow safety or other regulations to the letter in order to cause a slowdown rather than to serve their purpose. This is considered less disruptive than a strike or...

 (also known as an Italian strike, in Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 Sciopero bianco), in which workers perform their tasks exactly as they are required to but no better. For example, workers might follow all safety regulations in such a way that it impedes their productivity or they might refuse to work overtime
Overtime
Overtime is the amount of time someone works beyond normal working hours. Normal hours may be determined in several ways:*by custom ,*by practices of a given trade or profession,*by legislation,...

. Such strikes may in some cases be a form of "partial strike" or "slowdown".

During the development boom of the 1970s in Australia, the Green ban
Green ban
A green ban is a form of strike action, usually taken by a trade union or other organised labour group, which is conducted for environmentalist or conservationist purposes.-Background:...

 was developed by certain more socially conscious unions. This is a form of strike action taken by a trade union or other organised labour group for environmentalist or conservationist purposes. This developed from the black ban, strike action taken against a particular job or employer in order to protect the economic interests of the strikers.

United States labor law
United States labor law
United States labor law is a heterogeneous collection of state and federal laws. Federal law not only sets the standards that govern workers' rights to organize in the private sector, but also overrides most state and local laws that attempt to regulate this area. Federal law also provides more...

 also draws a distinction, in the case of private sector employers covered by the National Labor Relations Act
National Labor Relations Act
The National Labor Relations Act or Wagner Act , is a 1935 United States federal law that limits the means with which employers may react to workers in the private sector who create labor unions , engage in collective bargaining, and take part in strikes and other forms of concerted activity in...

, between "economic" and "unfair labor practice" strikes. An employer may not fire, but may permanently replace, workers who engage in a strike over economic issues. On the other hand, employers who commit unfair labor practice
Unfair labor practice
In United States labor law, the term unfair labor practice refers to certain actions taken by employers or unions that violate the National Labor Relations Act and other legislation...

s (ULPs) may not replace employees who strike over ULPs, and must fire any strikebreakers they have hired as replacements in order to reinstate the striking workers.

Strikes may be specific to a particular workplace, employer, or unit within a workplace, or they may encompass an entire industry, or every worker within a city or country. Strikes that involve all workers, or a number of large and important groups of workers, in a particular community or region are known as general strike
General strike
A general strike is a strike action by a critical mass of the labour force in a city, region, or country. While a general strike can be for political goals, economic goals, or both, it tends to gain its momentum from the ideological or class sympathies of the participants...

s. Under some circumstances, strikes may take place in order to put pressure on the State or other authorities or may be a response to unsafe conditions in the workplace.

A sympathy strike
Sympathy strike
Secondary action is industrial action by a trade union in support of a strike initiated by workers in another, separate enterprise...

 is, in a way, a small scale version of a general strike in which one group of workers refuses to cross a picket line established by another as a means of supporting the striking workers. Sympathy strikes, once the norm in the construction industry in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, have been made much more difficult to conduct due to decisions of the National Labor Relations Board
National Labor Relations Board
The National Labor Relations Board is an independent agency of the United States government charged with conducting elections for labor union representation and with investigating and remedying unfair labor practices. Unfair labor practices may involve union-related situations or instances of...

 permitting employers to establish separate or "reserved" gates for particular trades, making it an unlawful secondary boycott for a union to establish a picket line at any gate other than the one reserved for the employer it is picketing. Sympathy strikes may be undertaken by a union as an organization or by individual union members choosing not to cross a picket line.

A jurisdictional strike
Jurisdictional strike
Labor unions use the term jurisdiction to refer to their claims to represent workers who perform a certain type of work and the right of their members to perform such work...

 in United States labor law
United States labor law
United States labor law is a heterogeneous collection of state and federal laws. Federal law not only sets the standards that govern workers' rights to organize in the private sector, but also overrides most state and local laws that attempt to regulate this area. Federal law also provides more...

 refers to a concerted refusal to work undertaken by a union to assert its members’ right to particular job assignments and to protest the assignment of disputed work to members of another union or to unorganized workers.

A student strike
Student strike
A student strike occurs when students enrolled at a teaching institution such as a school, college or university refuse to go to class. This form of strike action is often used as a negotiating tactic in order to put pressure on the governing body of the university, particularly in countries where...

 has the students (sometimes supported by faculty) not attending schools. In some cases, the strike is intended to draw media attention to the institution so that the grievances that are causing the students to "strike" can be aired before the public; this usually damages the institution's (or government's) public image. In other cases, especially in government-supported institutions, the student strike can cause a budgetary imbalance and have actual economic repercussions for the institution.

A hunger strike
Hunger strike
A hunger strike is a method of non-violent resistance or pressure in which participants fast as an act of political protest, or to provoke feelings of guilt in others, usually with the objective to achieve a specific goal, such as a policy change. Most hunger strikers will take liquids but not...

 is a deliberate refusal to eat. Hunger strikes are often used in prisons as a form of political protest. Like student strikes, a hunger strike aims to worsen the public image of the target.

A "sickout", or (especially by uniformed police officers) "blue flu", is a type of strike action in which the strikers call in sick. This is used in cases where laws prohibit certain employees from declaring a strike. Police, firefighters, and air traffic controllers are among the groups commonly barred from striking: usually by state and federal laws meant to ensure the safety and/or security of the general public. So are teachers in some U.S. states (see below). Workers have sometimes circumvented these restrictions by falsely claiming inability to work due to illness.

Newspaper
Newspaper
A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

 writers may withhold their names from their stories as a way to protest actions of their employer.

In the People's Republic of China and the former Soviet Union

In some "Marxist-Leninist" regimes, such as the former USSR or the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, striking is illegal and viewed as counter-revolutionary (see Trade unions in the Soviet Union
Trade unions in the Soviet Union
Trade unions in the Soviet Union trace their history back to Russian Revolution of 1905. Many trade unions were shut down or restricted on the eve of World War I and during the War, but they revived after the February Revolution and their leaders were democratically elected during 1917.Anarchists...

, All-China Federation of Trade Unions
All-China Federation of Trade Unions
The All-China Federation of Trade Unions , is the sole national trade union federation of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest trade union in the world with 134 million members in 1,713,000 primary trade union organizations...

). Since the government in such systems claims to represent the working class, it has been argued that unions and strikes were not necessary. In 1976, China signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966, and in force from January 3, 1976...

, which guaranteed the right to unions and striking, but Chinese officials declared that they had no interest in allowing these liberties. (In June 2008, however, the municipal government in Shenzhen
Shenzhen
Shenzhen is a major city in the south of Southern China's Guangdong Province, situated immediately north of Hong Kong. The area became China's first—and one of the most successful—Special Economic Zones...

 in southern China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 introduced draft labour regulations, which labour rights advocacy groups say would, if implemented, virtually restore Chinese workers' right to strike.). Trade unions in the Soviet Union
Trade unions in the Soviet Union
Trade unions in the Soviet Union trace their history back to Russian Revolution of 1905. Many trade unions were shut down or restricted on the eve of World War I and during the War, but they revived after the February Revolution and their leaders were democratically elected during 1917.Anarchists...

 served in part as a means to educate workers about the country's economic system. Lenin referred to trade unions as "Schools of Communism." They were essentially state propaganda and control organs to regulate the workforce, also providing them with social activities.

In France

In France, the right to strike is recognized and guaranteed by the Constitution.

A "minimum service" during strikes in public transport was a promise of Nicolas Sarkozy during his campaign for the French presidential election. A law "on social dialogue and continuity of public service in regular terrestrial transports of passengers" was adopted on August 12, 2007, and it took effect on 1 January 2008.

This law, amongst other measures, forces certain categories of public transport workers (such as train and bus drivers) to declare to their employer 48 hours in advance if they intend to go on strike. Should they go on strike without having declared their intention to do so beforehand, they leave themselves open to sanctions.

The unions did and still do oppose this law and argue these 48 hours are used not only to pressure the workers but also to keep files on the more militant workers, who will more easily be undermined in their careers by the employers. Most importantly, they argue this law prevents the more hesitant workers from making the decision to join the strike the day before, once they've been convinced to do so by their colleagues and more particularly the union militants, who maximise their efforts in building the strike (by handing out leaflets, organising meetings, discussing the demands with their colleagues) in the last few days preceding the strike. This law makes it also more difficult for the strike to spread rapidly to other workers, as they are required to wait at least 48 hours before joining the strike.

This law also makes it easier for the employers to organise the production as it may use its human resources more effectively, knowing beforehand who is going to be at work and not, thus undermining, albeit not that much, the effects of the strike.

However, this law has not had much effect as strikes in public transports still occur in France and at times, the workers refuse to comply by the rules of this law. The public transport industry - public or privately owned - remains very militant in France and keen on taking strike action when their interests are threatened by the employers or the government.

The public transport workers in France, in particular the "Cheminots" (employees of the national French railway company) are often seen as the most radical "vanguard" of the French working class. This law has not, in the eyes of many, changed this fact.

In the United Kingdom

The Industrial Relations Act 1971
Industrial Relations Act 1971
The Industrial Relations Act 1971 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, since repealed. It was largely based on proposals outlined in the governing Conservative Party's manifesto for the 1970 general election...

 was repealed through the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974
Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974
The Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974 was a UK Act of Parliament, now replaced by the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1992. The 1974 Act was introduced by the Labour Government, and both repealed and replaced the Conservatives' Industrial Relations Act 1971...

, sections of which were repealed by the Employment Act 1982
Employment Act 1982
The Employment Act 1982 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom , mainly relating to trade unions. It increased compensation for those dismissed because of the closed shop and restricted the immunities enjoyed by trade unions.-Background:...

.

The Code of Practice on Industrial Action Ballots and Notices, and sections 22 and 25 of the Employment Relations Act 2004
Employment Relations Act 2004
The Employment Relations Act 2004 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.-Section 59 - Citation, commencement and extent:The following orders have been made under this section:* *...

, which concern industrial action notices, commenced on 1 October 2005.

Legislation was enacted in the aftermath of the 1919 police strikes, forbidding British police from both taking industrial action, and discussing the possibility with colleagues. The Police Federation
Police Federation
Police Federation may refer to:*Police Federation of England and Wales*Police Federation for Northern Ireland*Scottish Police Federation*Defence Police Federation...

 which was created at the time to deal with employment grievances, and provide representation to police officers, has increasingly put pressure on the government, and repeatedly threatened strike action.

In the United States

The Railway Labor Act
Railway Labor Act
The Railway Labor Act is a United States federal law that governs labor relations in the railroad and airline industries. The Act, passed in 1926 and amended in 1934 and 1936, seeks to substitute bargaining, arbitration and mediation for strikes as a means of resolving labor disputes...

 bans strikes by United States airline and railroad employees except in narrowly defined circumstances. The National Labor Relations Act
National Labor Relations Act
The National Labor Relations Act or Wagner Act , is a 1935 United States federal law that limits the means with which employers may react to workers in the private sector who create labor unions , engage in collective bargaining, and take part in strikes and other forms of concerted activity in...

 generally permits strikes, but provides a mechanism to enjoin strikes in industries in which a strike would create a national emergency. The federal government most recently invoked these statutory provisions to obtain an injunction requiring the International Longshore and Warehouse Union
International Longshore and Warehouse Union
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union is a labor union which primarily represents dock workers on the West Coast of the United States, Hawaii and Alaska, and in British Columbia, Canada. It also represents hotel workers in Hawaii, cannery workers in Alaska, warehouse workers throughout...

 return to work in 2002 after having been locked out by the employer group, the Pacific Maritime Association.

Some jurisdictions prohibit all strikes by public employees, under laws such as the "Taylor Law
Taylor Law
The Public Employees Fair Employment Act refers to Article 14 of the New York State Civil Service Law, which defines the rights and limitations of unions for public employees in New York....

" in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

. Other jurisdictions impose strike bans only on certain categories of workers, particularly those regarded as critical to society: police
Police
The police is a personification of the state designated to put in practice the enforced law, protect property and reduce civil disorder in civilian matters. Their powers include the legitimized use of force...

 and firefighter
Firefighter
Firefighters are rescuers extensively trained primarily to put out hazardous fires that threaten civilian populations and property, to rescue people from car incidents, collapsed and burning buildings and other such situations...

s are among the groups commonly barred from striking in these jurisdictions. Some states, such as Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, Iowa
Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

 or Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, do not allow teachers in public schools to strike. Workers have sometimes circumvented these restrictions by falsely claiming inability to work due to illness — this is sometimes called a "sickout" or "blue flu", the latter receiving its name from the uniforms worn by police officers, who are traditionally prohibited from striking. The term "red flu" has sometimes been used to describe this action when undertaken by firefighters.

Postal workers involved in 1978 wildcat strikes in Jersey City
Jersey City, New Jersey
Jersey City is the seat of Hudson County, New Jersey, United States.Part of the New York metropolitan area, Jersey City lies between the Hudson River and Upper New York Bay across from Lower Manhattan and the Hackensack River and Newark Bay...

, Kearny, New Jersey
Kearny, New Jersey
Kearny is a town in Hudson County, New Jersey, United States. It was named after Civil War general Philip Kearny. As of the United States 2010 Census, the town population was 40,684. The town is a suburb of the nearby city of Newark....

, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 were fired under the presidency of Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

, and President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 fired air traffic controller
Air traffic controller
Air traffic controllers are the people who expedite and maintain a safe and orderly flow of air traffic in the global air traffic control system. The position of the air traffic controller is one that requires highly specialized skills...

s and the PATCO
Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization
The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization or PATCO was a United States trade union that operated from 1968 until its decertification in 1981 following a strike that was broken by the Reagan Administration. The 1981 strike and defeat of PATCO has been called "one of the most important...

 union after the air traffic controllers' strike of 1981.

Strikebreakers

A strikebreaker
Strikebreaker
A strikebreaker is a person who works despite an ongoing strike. Strikebreakers are usually individuals who are not employed by the company prior to the trade union dispute, but rather hired prior to or during the strike to keep the organisation running...

is someone who continues to work during strike action by trade unionists or temporary and permanent replacement workers hired to take the place of those on strike. Strikebreakers are commonly given derogatory terms like scab and blackleg. The act of working during a strike – whether by strikebreakers, management personnel, non-unionized employees or members of other unions not on strike – is known as crossing the picket line, regardless of whether it involves actually physically crossing a line of picketing strikers. Crossing a picket line can result in passive
Shunning
Shunning can be the act of social rejection, or mental rejection. Social rejection is when a person or group deliberately avoids association with, and habitually keeps away from an individual or group. This can be a formal decision by a group, or a less formal group action which will spread to all...

 and/or active
Assault
In law, assault is a crime causing a victim to fear violence. The term is often confused with battery, which involves physical contact. The specific meaning of assault varies between countries, but can refer to an act that causes another to apprehend immediate and personal violence, or in the more...

 retaliation against that working person.

Irwin, Jones, McGovern (2008) believe that the term 'scab' is part of a larger metaphor involving strikes. They argue that the picket line is symbolic of a wound and those who break its borders to return to work are the scabs who bond that wound. Others have argued that the word is not a part of a larger metaphor but, rather, originates from the old-fashioned English insult, "scab." The OED gives the etymology of 'scab' in this sense as a term of abuse or depreciation derived from the MDu. schabbe, applied to women with the senses ‘slut’ and ‘scold’ and 'scurvy'.

"Blackleg" is an older word and is found in the late-nineteenth/early-twentieth century folk song from Northumberland
Northumberland
Northumberland is the northernmost ceremonial county and a unitary district in North East England. For Eurostat purposes Northumberland is a NUTS 3 region and is one of three boroughs or unitary districts that comprise the "Northumberland and Tyne and Wear" NUTS 2 region...

, Blackleg Miner
Blackleg Miner
Blackleg Miner is a 19th-century English folk song, originally from Northumberland ....

. The term does not necessarily owe its origins to this tune of unknown origin. The song is, however, notable for its lyrics that encourage violent acts against strikebreakers.

Union strikebreaking

The concept of union strikebreaking or union scabbing refers to any circumstance in which union workers themselves cross picket lines to work.

Unionized workers are sometimes required to cross the picket lines established by other unions due to their organizations having signed contracts which include no-strike clauses. The no-strike clause typically requires that members of the union not conduct any strike action for the duration of the contract; such actions are called sympathy or secondary strikes. Members who honor the picket line in spite of the contract frequently face discipline, for their action may be viewed as a violation of provisions of the contract. Therefore, any union conducting a strike action typically seeks to include a provision of amnesty for all who honored the picket line in the agreement that settles the strike.

No-strike clauses may also prevent unionized workers from engaging in solidarity actions for other workers even when no picket line is crossed. For example, striking workers in manufacturing or mining produce a product which must be transported. In a situation where the factory or mine owners have replaced the strikers, unionized transport workers may feel inclined to refuse to haul any product that is produced by strikebreakers, yet their own contract obligates them to do so.

Historically the practice of union strikebreaking has been a contentious issue in the union movement, and a point of contention between adherents of different union philosophies. For example, supporters of industrial unions
Industrial unionism
Industrial unionism is a labor union organizing method through which all workers in the same industry are organized into the same union—regardless of skill or trade—thus giving workers in one industry, or in all industries, more leverage in bargaining and in strike situations...

, which have sought to organize entire workplaces without regard to individual skills, have criticized craft unions
Craft unionism
Craft unionism refers to organizing a union in a manner that seeks to unify workers in a particular industry along the lines of the particular craft or trade that they work in by class or skill level...

 for organizing workplaces into separate unions according to skill, a circumstance that makes union strikebreaking more common. Union strikebreaking is not, however, unique to craft unions.

Methods used by employers to deal with strikes

Most strikes called by unions are somewhat predictable; they typically occur after the contract has expired. However, not all strikes are called by union organizations — some strikes have been called in an effort to pressure employers to recognize unions. Other strikes may be spontaneous actions by working people. Spontaneous strikes are sometimes called "wildcat strikes"; they were the key fighting point in May 1968 in France; most commonly, they are responses to serious (often life-threatening) safety hazards in the workplace rather than wage or hour disputes, etc.

Whatever the cause of the strike, employers are generally motivated to take measures to prevent them, mitigate the impact, or to undermine strikes when they do occur.

Strike preparation

Companies which produce products for sale will frequently increase inventories prior to a strike. Salaried employees may be called upon to take the place of strikers, which may entail advance training. If the company has multiple locations, personnel may be redeployed to meet the needs of reduced staff.

Companies may also take out strike insurance prior to an anticipated strike, to help offset the losses which the strike would cause.

Strike breaking

Some companies negotiate with the union during a strike; other companies may see a strike as an opportunity to eliminate the union. This is sometimes accomplished by the importation of replacement workers, strikebreaker
Strikebreaker
A strikebreaker is a person who works despite an ongoing strike. Strikebreakers are usually individuals who are not employed by the company prior to the trade union dispute, but rather hired prior to or during the strike to keep the organisation running...

s or "scabs". Historically, strike breaking has often coincided with union busting. It was also called 'Black legging' in the early 20th century, during the Russian socialist movement.

Union busting

One method of inhibiting a strike is elimination of the union that may launch it, which is sometimes accomplished through union busting
Union busting
Union busting is a wide range of activities undertaken by employers, their proxies, and governments, which attempt to prevent the formation or expansion of trade unions...

. Union busting campaigns may be orchestrated by labor relations consultants, and may utilize the services of labor spies
Labor spies
Labor spies are persons recruited or employed for the purpose of gathering intelligence, committing sabotage, sowing dissent, or engaging in other similar activities, typically within the context of an employer/labor organization relationship....

, or asset protection services. Similar services may be engaged during attempts to defeat organizing drives. A modern example of a union buster is The Burke Group
The Burke Group
The Burke Group is a U.S.-based international management consultancy established in 1982 with headquarters in Los Angeles. The Burke Group describes itself as an "international leader" in guiding management during union recognition campaigns. TBG provides commercial services to private and public...

.

Lockout

Another counter to a strike is a lockout
Lockout (industry)
A lockout is a work stoppage in which an employer prevents employees from working. This is different from a strike, in which employees refuse to work.- Causes :...

, the form of work stoppage in which an employer refuses to allow employees to work. Two of the three employers involved in the Caravan park grocery workers strike of 2003-2004 locked out their employees in response to a strike against the third member of the employer bargaining group. Lockouts are, with certain exceptions, lawful under United States labor law
United States labor law
United States labor law is a heterogeneous collection of state and federal laws. Federal law not only sets the standards that govern workers' rights to organize in the private sector, but also overrides most state and local laws that attempt to regulate this area. Federal law also provides more...

.

Violence

Historically, some employers have attempted to break union strikes by force. One of the most famous examples of this occurred during the Homestead Strike
Homestead Strike
The Homestead Strike was an industrial lockout and strike which began on June 30, 1892, culminating in a battle between strikers and private security agents on July 6, 1892. It was one of the most serious disputes in U.S. labor history...

 of 1892. Industrialist Henry Clay Frick
Henry Clay Frick
Henry Clay Frick was an American industrialist, financier, and art patron. He founded the H. C. Frick & Company coke manufacturing company, was chairman of the Carnegie Steel Company, and played a major role in the formation of the giant U.S. Steel steel manufacturing concern...

 sent private security agents from the Pinkerton National Detective Agency
Pinkerton National Detective Agency
The Pinkerton National Detective Agency, usually shortened to the Pinkertons, is a private U.S. security guard and detective agency established by Allan Pinkerton in 1850. Pinkerton became famous when he claimed to have foiled a plot to assassinate president-elect Abraham Lincoln, who later hired...

 to break the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers
Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers
Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers was an American labor union formed in 1876 and which represented iron and steel workers. It partnered with the Steel Workers Organizing Committee, CIO, in November, 1935...

 strike at a Homestead
Homestead, Pennsylvania
Homestead is a borough in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA, in the "Mon Valley," southeast of downtown Pittsburgh and directly across the river from the city limit line. The borough is known for the Homestead Strike of 1892, an important event in the history of labor relations in the United...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 steel mill. Two strikers were killed, twelve wounded, along with two Pinkertons killed and eleven wounded. In the aftermath, Frick was shot in the neck and then stabbed by Alexander Berkman
Alexander Berkman
Alexander Berkman was an anarchist known for his political activism and writing. He was a leading member of the anarchist movement in the early 20th century....

, surviving the attack, while Berkman was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Non-fiction

  • Final Offer
    Final Offer
    Final Offer is a Canadian film documenting the 1984 contract negotiations between the United Auto Workers Union and GM. Ultimately, it provided a historical record of the birth of the Canadian Auto Workers Union as Bob White, then head of the Canadian sector of the UAW, led his membership out of...

    - A look at the 1984 contract negotiations between General Motors and its union.
  • Harlan County, USA
    Harlan County, USA
    Harlan County, USA is an Oscar-winning 1976 documentary film covering the "Brookside Strike" or "Bloody Harlan", an effort of 180 coal miners and their wives against the Duke Power Company-owned Eastover Coal Company's Brookside Mine and Prep Plant in Harlan County, Kentucky in 1973...

    , Director: Barbara Kopple
    Barbara Kopple
    Barbara Kopple is an American film director, primarily known for her work in documentary film.-Biography:She grew up in Scarsdale, New York, the daughter of a textile executive and studied psychology at Northeastern University, after which she worked with the Maysles Brothers.Kopple has won two...

    , USA 1976–A documentary film
    Documentary film
    Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...

     about a very long and bitter strike of coal miners in Kentucky
  • American Dream
    American Dream (film)
    American Dream is a cinéma vérité documentary film directed by Barbara Kopple and co-directed by Cathy Caplan, Thomas Haneke, and Lawrence Silk....

    ,
    Director: Barbara Kopple
    Barbara Kopple
    Barbara Kopple is an American film director, primarily known for her work in documentary film.-Biography:She grew up in Scarsdale, New York, the daughter of a textile executive and studied psychology at Northeastern University, after which she worked with the Maysles Brothers.Kopple has won two...

    , USA 1990 – A documentary film
    Documentary film
    Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...

     about the unsuccessful 1985-1986 meatpacker's
    Meat packing industry
    The meat packing industry handles the slaughtering, processing, packaging, and distribution of animals such as cattle, pigs, sheep and other livestock...

     strike against Hormel Foods in Austin
    Austin, Minnesota
    As of the census of 2000, there were 23,314 people, 9,897 households, and 6,076 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,168.2 people per square mile . There were 10,261 housing units at an average density of 954.3 per square mile...

    , Minnesota
    Minnesota
    Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

    .
  • Bastard Boys
    Bastard Boys
    Bastard Boys is an Australian television miniseries broadcast on the ABC in 2007. It tells the story of the 1998 Australian waterfront dispute.-Plot:...

    , A miniseries based on the 1998 Australian waterfront dispute
    1998 Australian waterfront dispute
    The Australian waterfront dispute of 1998 was a watershed event in Australian Industrial Relations history, in which the Patrick Corporation undertook a restructuring of their operations for the purpose of increasing the productivity of their workforce...

    .

Fiction

  • Statschka Strike
    Strike (film)
    Strike is a 1925 silent film made in the Soviet Union by Sergei Eisenstein. It was Eisenstein's first full-length feature film, and he would go on to make The Battleship Potemkin later that year. It was acted by the Proletcult Theatre, and composed of six parts...

    , Director: Sergei Eisenstein
    Sergei Eisenstein
    Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein , né Eizenshtein, was a pioneering Soviet Russian film director and film theorist, often considered to be the "Father of Montage"...

    , Soviet Union 1924
  • Brüder brothers
    Brothers
    Brothers are male siblings.Brothers may also refer to:- Film :* Brothers , an American silent film directed by D. W. Griffith* Brothers , an American film starring Vonetta McGee and Bernie Casey...

    , Director: Werner Hochbaum, Germany 1929–On the general strike in the port of Hamburg, Germany in 1896/97
  • The Stars Look Down
    The Stars Look Down
    The Stars Look Down is a 1935 novel by A. J. Cronin which chronicles various injustices in an English coal mining community. A film version was produced in 1939, and television adaptations include both Italian and British versions....

    , Director: Carol Reed
    Carol Reed
    Sir Carol Reed was an English film director best known for Odd Man Out , The Fallen Idol , The Third Man and Oliver!...

    , England 1939 – Film about a strike over safety standards at a coal mine in North-East England - based on the Cronin novel
  • Salt of the Earth
    Salt of the Earth
    Salt of the Earth is an American drama film written by Michael Wilson, directed by Herbert J. Biberman, and produced by Paul Jarrico. All had been blacklisted by the Hollywood establishment due to their alleged involvement in communist politics....

    , Director: Herbert J. Biberman, USA 1953–Fictionalized account of an actual zinc-miners' strike in Silver City, New Mexico
    Silver City, New Mexico
    Silver City is a town in Grant County, New Mexico, in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the town population was 10,545. It is the county seat of Grant County. The city is the home of Western New Mexico University.-History:...

    , in which women took over the picket line to circumvent an injunction barring "striking miners" from company property. The striking women were largely played by real members of the strike, and one woman was deported to Mexico while filming. The union organizer Clinton Jencks (from Jencks v. United States
    Jencks v. United States
    Jencks v. United States, 353 U.S. 657 , is a U.S. Supreme Court case.The petitioner, Clinton Jencks appealed, by certiorari, his conviction in a Federal District Court of violating 18 U.S.C...

     fame) also participated.
  • F.I.S.T, Director: Norman Jewison
    Norman Jewison
    Norman Frederick Jewison, CC, O.Ont is a Canadian film director, producer, actor and founder of the Canadian Film Centre. Highlights of his directing career include In the Heat of the Night , The Thomas Crown Affair , Fiddler on the Roof , Jesus Christ Superstar , Moonstruck , The Hurricane and The...

    , 1978 – loosely based on the Teamsters
    Teamsters
    The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is a labor union in the United States and Canada. Formed in 1903 by the merger of several local and regional locals of teamsters, the union now represents a diverse membership of blue-collar and professional workers in both the public and private sectors....

     union and former president Jimmy Hoffa
    Jimmy Hoffa
    James Riddle "Jimmy" Hoffa was an American labor union leader....

    .
  • Norma Rae
    Norma Rae
    Norma Rae is a 1979 American drama film that tells the story of a factory worker from a small town in North Carolina, who becomes involved in the labor union activities at the textile factory where she works...

    , Director: Martin Ritt
    Martin Ritt
    Martin Ritt was an American director, actor, and playwright who worked in both film and theater. He was born in New York City.-Early career and influences:...

    , 1979.
  • Matewan
    Matewan
    Matewan is an American drama film written and directed by John Sayles, illustrating the events of a coal mine-workers' strike and attempt to unionize in 1920 in Matewan, a small town in the hills of West Virginia....

    , Director: John Sayles
    John Sayles
    John Thomas Sayles is an American independent film director, screenwriter and author.-Early life:Sayles was born in Schenectady, New York, the son of Mary , a teacher, and Donald John Sayles, a school administrator. He was raised Catholic and took to labeling himself "a Catholic atheist"...

    , 1987 – critically acclaimed account of a coal mine-workers' strike and attempt to unionize in 1920 in Matewan, a small town in the hills of West Virginia
    West Virginia
    West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

    .

Other uses

  • Sometimes, "to go on strike" is used figuratively for machinery or equipment not working due to malfunction, e.g. "My computer's on strike".

See also

  • Civil resistance
    Civil resistance
    The term civil resistance, alongside the term nonviolent resistance, is used to describe political action that relies on the use of non-violent methods by civil groups to challenge a particular power, force, policy or regime. Civil resistance operates through appeals to the adversary, pressure and...

  • Labor law
  • General strike
    General strike
    A general strike is a strike action by a critical mass of the labour force in a city, region, or country. While a general strike can be for political goals, economic goals, or both, it tends to gain its momentum from the ideological or class sympathies of the participants...

  • Rent strike
    Rent strike
    A rent strike is a method of protest commonly employed against large landlords. In a rent strike, a group of tenants come together and agree to refuse to pay their rent en masse until a specific list of demands is met by the landlord...

  • List of strikes
  • Winnipeg General Strike
  • 1891 Australian shearers' strike
    1891 Australian shearers' strike
    350px|thumb|Shearers' strike camp, Hughenden, central Queensland, 1891.The 1891 shearers' strike is one of Australia's earliest and most important industrial disputes. Working conditions for sheep shearers in 19th century Australia weren't good. In 1891 wool was one of Australia's largest industries...

     
  • Stay away
    Stay away
    A stay away, also known as a stay-away or stayaway, is a form of protest where people are told to "stay away" from work, similar to a general strike.- In Zimbabwe :...


  • Occupation of factories
    Occupation of factories
    Occupation of factories is a method of the workers' movement used to prevent lock outs. They may sometimes lead to "recovered factories," in which the workers self-manage the factories.They have been used in many strike actions, including:...

  • Seattle General Strike of 1919
    Seattle General Strike of 1919
    The Seattle General Strike of February 6 to February 11, 1919, was a general work stoppage by over 65,000 workers in the city of Seattle, Washington. Dissatisfied workers in several unions began the strike to gain higher wages after two years of World War I wage controls...

  • Union Organizer
    Union organizer
    A union organizer is a specific type of trade union member or an appointed union official. A majority of unions appoint rather than elect their organizers....

  • The Burke Group
    The Burke Group
    The Burke Group is a U.S.-based international management consultancy established in 1982 with headquarters in Los Angeles. The Burke Group describes itself as an "international leader" in guiding management during union recognition campaigns. TBG provides commercial services to private and public...

  • Sitdown strike
    Sitdown strike
    A sit-down strike is a form of civil disobedience in which an organized group of workers, usually employed at a factory or other centralized location, take possession of the workplace by "sitting down" at their stations, effectively preventing their employers from replacing them with strikebreakers...

  • Fare strike
    Fare Strike
    A fare strike is a direct action in which people in a city with a public transit system carry out mass fare evasion as a method of protest. Jumping turnstiles, boarding buses through the back or very quickly through the front, and leaving doors open in subway stations are all tactics that have been...

  • 1994–95 Major League Baseball strike


Further reading

  • Norwood, Stephen H. Strikebreaking and Intimidation. Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 2002. ISBN 0807827053
  • Silver, Beverly J. Forces of Labor: Workers' Movements and Globalization Since 1870. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 0521520770
  • Smith, Stephanie. Household Words: Bloomers, Sucker, Bombshell, Scab, Nigger, Cyber. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006. ISBN 0816645531

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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