Wildcat Strike Law and Legal Definition

A wildcat strike is a work stoppage that occurs during the term of a collective bargaining agreement without approval of union leadership and in violation of a no-strike clause. Such strikes generally occur because

  1. labor has specific problems or concerns that have not been satisfactorily addressed by employers or
  2. workers feel that union leaders are not acting in the best interest of the union members. It is also referred to as an "outlaw strike".

Despite its statutory recognition of the right to strike, the federal Taft-Hartley Act prohibits some types of concerted pressure. Individuals who participate in wildcat strikes are engaged in unprotected activity and may be subject to employer discipline. Discipline imposed against wildcat strikers must be nondiscriminatory. The employer may, however, single out instigators for harsher discipline than is imposed against other participants.

Union stewards and officers may not be given harsher discipline than other wildcat strikers, unless:

  • The contract gives the union specific affirmative obligations to attempt to prevent or end wildcats,
  • The union authorized or ratified the wildcat, or
  • The officer or steward instigated the strike.

An employer may seek an injunction against a wildcat strike, but an injunction will be issued only if the employer is willing to arbitrate the underlying dispute.