Public Employees’ Right to Strike: Law and Experience

This Article analyzes the law of and experience with the statutory right to strike in the public sector. Part I examines the policy debate over whether public employees should have a right to strike and concludes that reliance on the right to strike is superior to other forms of collective-bargaining dispute resolution in the public sector. The remainder of the Article focuses in detail on the experiences in Illinois and Ohio since those states legalized public employee strikes. The analysis is supplemented with an examination of the experiences with legalized strikes in Oregon and Pennsylvania. Part II compares and contrasts the laws of these four jurisdictions regarding the right to strike. Part III examines these states’ experiences with the right to strike, focusing on whether legalizing public employee strikes leads to increased strike activity and on the effects of requiring fact-finding as a precondition to a lawful strike. Part IV considers the question of enjoining a lawful public employee strike. The Article concludes that public employees should have a statutory right to strike, that there should be no requirement of fact-finding as a precondition to a lawful strike, and that injunctions should be issued rarely, if ever.