A strike occurs when employees collectively agree to stop working in order to gain concessions from an employer, typically after contract negotiations break down. While strikes tend to grab media attention, they are rare and typically a last resort. More than 95 percent of all Teamster contracts are negotiated without a strike being called.
Before a strike is called, the union typically notifies the company that it intends to call a strike vote. A majority of workers in the bargaining unit must vote in favor of a strike before one can be called. The decision rests with the affected workers. Most strikes are called for economic reasons—to improve wages, health benefits, retirement benefits, etc. And because most contracts include a no-strike clause, they typically occur only after a contract expires, not during the term of the contract.
Strikes can be called at any time if extremely unsafe working conditions occur or if the company has participated in an “unfair labor practice.” But these types of noneconomic strikes are very rare.
Most Teamster contracts also include language that protects Teamster members who refuse to cross active picket lines of other striking unions. Check with your steward or local for more information on the language and protections in your contract.