A young woman participates in an illegal strike in North America.

In the Face of an Illegal Strike,
Where Does the Employer

In the Face of an Illegal Worker Strike, Where Does the Employer Stand?

December 13, 2023

Illegal Worker Strike, Picketing, and Risk: What Employers Need to Know

Illegal worker strikes are one of the most recent hurdles for employers facing labor stoppages and employee strikes. When unionized workforces refuse to play by the rules and partake in illegal picketing or unlawful strike action, employers are left with few options to make ends meet. Holding your workforce accountable for their actions can be a complex mess to navigate on your own, and employers will need specialized resources to bring an end to a strike as quickly as possible.

Navigating an illegal strike can be a delicate matter that calls for guidance from specialists who are familiar with these issues and can guide you through the process. 

Illegal Worker Strike, shown via a woman on a picket line screaming into a megaphone.

Illegal Strikes in North America: What is Considered an Illegal Worker Strike?

What is considered an illegal strike varies between state and province, and the rules differ based on the jurisdiction. Each strike is unique, and the actions of a workforce can gravitate beyond what is considered legally acceptable. At times, some unions may take to the picket line without notifying their employer, failing to follow due process. 

Should a labor strike be deemed illegal by a labor board, it may call for government intervention to bring it to an end. The only way to navigate these complexities is to lean on a third party who can guide you through the process, provide extensive legal counsel, and assist with maintaining business continuity regardless of illegal strike action.

Options for Employers in North America

Even when facing illegal strike action on behalf of a workforce, employers are encouraged to continue to negotiate and work within the legal confines outlined by the government. Breaking or bending the legal rules of a strike as an employer offers limited solutions and could have long-term legal consequences. 

Employers should respond to illegal strike action by carefully documenting the activities of their picketing workforce to hold strikers accountable and, if necessary, leverage contingent workforces to support their business during the strike. It is also advisable to arrange for extensive security resources that can manage picket lines and ensure the safety of all parties involved.

Security Risks on Picket Lines

Picket lines, whether they are deemed legal or not, often draw significant attention from the general public. Whether onlookers are showing support or are hurling insults at picketers, the surge in attention comes with security risks that are best addressed preemptively. Employers have the legal responsibility to protect their workforce from harm, and should members of the public clash with picketers; any injuries could be the responsibility of the employer.

It is not uncommon for tempers to run high on an illegal picket line, as members of your staff can act out, cause vandalism to your job site, or engage in violence with those attempting to cross. Local law enforcement can only offer so much during these challenging times, and employers will have to bear full responsibility for all that occurs during a strike.

Click to learn more about the full suite of business continuity services from AFIMAC Global.

Solutions Including Legal Guidance and Security by AFIMAC Global

Contentious labor issues have long-lasting impacts on the morale of staff and your corporation’s public reputation. Should something terrible occur during a strike, it could lead to a costly litigation process. Play by the rules even when your unionized workforce refuses to, and protect your people and property during the process. Illegal strike action offers endless complexities, and executive teams will need to ensure they have taken the right steps to ensure the safety and compliance of all parties involved.

AFIMAC has worked closely with several employers across North America to help prepare for and address every element of a union strike. We specialize in deployable contingent workforces, security resources, documentation, and legal guidance, offering full-service solutions to illegal worker strikes that can compromise your business for years to come. We are proud to serve corporations of all shapes and sizes across North America.

Connect with an AFIMAC representative directly to learn more.

Fast food unionization illustrated by a chef working in a restaurant.
City worker strike in Ontario Canada illustrated by a construction worker on a job site.
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Workers strike shown via a woman on a picket line.
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Labor dispute guidance and planning is conducted with AFIAMC clients.
Port strikes illustrated by a large tanker of shipping containers.
Factory worker strikes illustrated by an empty factory in Rhode Island.
Labor strikes illustrated by a man shouting while standing on a picket line.
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