Wildcat strikes

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. Wildcat strikes were the key fighting strategy during the May 1968 protests in France.

By country


On March 23, 2012, Air Canada ground employees suddenly walked off the job at Toronto Pearson International Airport, resulting in many flight delays, after three workers were suspended for heckling Canadian Labour Minister Lisa Raitt. This followed months of fighting between Air Canada and its other unions.[1]

United States of America

Wildcat strikes have been considered illegal in the United States since 1935.[2] The 1932 Norris-La Guardia Act held that clauses in labor contracts barring employees from joining unions were not enforceable, thus granting employees the right to unionize regardless of their workplace situation. Unions have the power to bargain collectively on behalf of their members and to call for strikes demanding concessions from employers. Under the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), federal courts have held that wildcat strikes are illegal and that employers may fire workers participating in them.[2]

Nevertheless, workers can formally request that the National Labor Relations Board end their association with their labor union if they feel that the union is not sufficiently supportive of them. At this point, any strike action taken by the workers may be termed a wildcat strike, but there is no illegality involved as there is no longer a conflict between sections 7 and 9(a) of the NLRA.[3]

Some strikes that begin as wildcat actions, such as the Memphis Sanitation Strike and Baltimore municipal strike of 1974, are later supported by the union, which then steps in to act as bargaining agent.


In Vietnam, all workers are required to join a union connected to the Vietnam General Conference of Labor, a government-controlled entity. Due to workers' distrust of this agency, nearly all strikes in the country are wildcat strikes.[4]

Notable wildcat strikes

See also

Organized labour portal


External links

  • 1970: US National Postal Strike
  • 1987: The Great Workers' Struggle - A short account of the South Korean strike wave of 1987.
  • Black Cats, White Cats, Wildcats: Auto Workers in Detroit
  • Good work strike
  • Hundreds of news articles concerning specific wildcat strike actions around the world
  • Long lost wildcat strikes in the UK, 1960s-1990s
  • Wildcat or official strike action? - A discussion of the relative merits of official strike action versus unsanctioned wildcat action.
  • 1977-1978.
  • Labour Law Profile: Irelandnl:Staking#Wilde staking
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