Picketing is one of the first activities to occur during a strike. The purpose is to inform that public about the labor dispute.

Having employees carry signs announcing their concerns near the employer’s place of business.

Picketing or having employees carry signs announcing their concern near the employer’s place of business is one of the first activities to occur during a strike. Its purpose is to inform the public about the existence of the labor dispute and often to encourage others to refrain from doing business with the struck employer.

Employer can make several responses when they become the object of a strike. One is to shut down the affected area and halt operations until the strike is over, A second is to contract out work in order to blunt the effects of the strike. A third response is to continue operations, perhaps using supervisors and other non-striking workers to fill in for the striking workers. A fourth alternative is hiring replacements for the strikers.

Diminished union leverage plus competitive pressures now prompt more employers to replace (or at least consider replacing) strikers with permanent replacement workers. One study of human resource managers found that of those responding, 18% would not consider striker replacements in the event of a stroke while 31% called it not very likely 23% somewhat likely and 21% very likely. When North West Airlines began giving permanent jobs to 1,500 substitute workers it hired to replace striking mechanics by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association basically fell apart.

Employers generally can replace strikers. In one very important labor relations case known as Mackay , the US supreme court ruled that while the National Labor Relations Act does prohibit employers form interfering with employees right to strike employers still have the right to continue their operations and, therefore to replace strikers . Subsequent decisions by the National Labor Relations Board put some limitations on Mackay. For example employers cannot permanently replace strikers who are protesting unfair labor practices; cannot grant replacement workers pay rates not offered to strikers and must rehire strikers who apply for reinstatement unconditionally.

When a strike is imminent, the employer should make plans to deal with it. For example, as negotiations between the Hibbing Steel plant in Minnesota and the United Steel workers of America headed toward a deadline, the firm began preparations that included bringing in security workers and trailers to house them.

Two experts say that, with a strike imminent following these guidelines can minimize confusion:

1) Pay all striking employees what you owe them on the first day of the strike.
2) Secure the facility. Management should control access to the property. The company should consider hiring guards to protect replacements coming to and from work and to watch and control the picketers if necessary.
3) Notify all customers and prepare a standard official response to all queries.
4) Contact all suppliers and other persons who will have to cross the picket line. Establish alternative methods of obtaining supplies.
5) Make arrangements for overnight stays in the facility and for delivered meals in case the occasion warrants such action.
6) Notify the local unemployment office of your need for replacement workers.
7) Photograph the facility before during and after picketing. If necessary install video tape equipment and devices to monitor picket line misconduct.
8) Record all facts concerning strikers’ demeanor and activities and such incidents as violence threats, mass property damage or problems. Record the police response to requests for assistance.
9) Gather the following evidence number of pickets and their names; time, date and location of picketing wording on every sign carried by pickets and descriptions of picket cars and license numbers.