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If efforts for impasse resolution fail between a teachers’ union and a school district, teachers may choose to strike to persuade or coerce the board to meet the demands of the union. A lockout by an employer is the counterpart to a strike. The right to strike in the private sector is guaranteed under the National Labor Relations Act. However, only about half of the states have extended this right to teachers in the public sector. These states usually limit this right under the respective labor laws. Where teachers do not have the right to strike, state statutes often impose monetary or similar penalties on those who strike illegally.

In states where strikes are permitted in the public sector, teachers often must meet several conditions prior to the strike. For example, a state may require that a bargaining unit has been certified properly, that methods for impasse resolution have been exhausted, that any existing collective bargaining agreement has expired, and that the union has provided sufficient notice to the school board. The purpose of such conditions is to give the parties an opportunity to avoid a strike, which is usually unpopular with both employers and employees.

Inside Strikes