Partial Strikes and National Labor Policy

Some authorities have argued that “partial strike” is a misnomer and a contradiction in terms. In their view, a partial strike is not in fact a “strike” and should not be entitled to any of the legal benefits and protections which may stem from a strike status. That argument is discredited today, especially because of the broad definitions which were incorporated in the amended National Labor Relations Act. In Title V, section 50 l (2) of the act, Congress said: “The term ‘strike’ includes any strike or other concerted stoppage of work by employees … and any concerted slowdown or other concerted interruption of operations by employees.”

It should be emphasized that these definitions are significant for other than academic reasons. Because the rights which strikers possess under the act seem to turn on, among other things, the difference between a total strike and a partial strike, the distinction between the two is crucial. The total strike, assuming it is peaceful and for a lawful objective, carries a stamp of legitimacy and a grant of legal protection while the partial strike results in a brand of impropriety and a loss of legal protection. These thoughts will be developed in greater detail later in the article. But this preliminary observation will give the reader some conception of the legal consequences of this distinction.