Special Report

31 of the Largest Worker Strikes in American History

The coronavirus pandemic’s devastating effect on the world’s economies has shined a harsh light on the value of labor — it is the most vulnerable commodity in our economic system. In the countless examples of workers’ struggles in U.S. history, this power has been leveraged — with varying degrees of success — to negotiate and improve labor conditions across all manner of workplaces. 

Many elements of gainful employment Americans may take for granted, such as health benefits, a living wage, and the 40-hour work week, were won by organized labor. These are the highest paying jobs in America.

Even though a wave of strikes hit the U.S. as recently as 2018, union membership has declined for decades. This pattern can be seen in our ranking of strikes by cumulative work stoppage days, with the nation’s largest worker actions tending to have occurred earlier than the less massive strikes. For a geographical perspective on union strength, here are the states with the strongest and weakest unions. 

24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as media and archive reports on historic work stoppages to determine the largest worker strikes in American history. 

Click here to see the 31 largest worker strikes in American history.

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