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Top 3 Things to Know if You Are Going on Strike

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By Neetal Parekh on August 18, 2009 11:05 AM

Yesterday San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) averted a strike that would have halted the City's Monday morning commute.  The parties involved appear to be settling on terms of a proposed contract, but the incident brings up the topic of striking workers.

What rights do striking employees have?  Are they entitled to unemployment insurance?

Top 3 Things to Know if You Are Going on Strike:

1.  Most states do not allow unionized striking worker to collect unemployment benefits.  Some state laws do allow striking employees, who are members of a union, to collect unemployment insurance if the strike is caused by an employer's violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the employer breached a collective bargaining agreement, or the employer locked out employees.  However, on the whole, going on strike forfeits the employee's ability to receive unemployment. 

2.  Just because you can't collect unemployment for striking, doesn't mean you'll never be able to collect it.  The period of being disqualified for receiving unemployment insurance varies by state-- and can last for a fixed period of time or for the duration of the strike.  However, if a new employee is permanently hired to replace the worker on strike, the striking worker is entitled to unemployment.

3. If you are part of a union, you may be obligated to strike.  By being a member of a union, an employee agrees to the Union's bylaws and Bill of Rights and delegates contract negotiations to the union's collective bargaining processes.  Refusing to go on strike as a member of a union may subject the worker to discipline and fines by the union.   


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