“Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains,” philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau said in the 18th century. Likewise, the right to strike is the fundamental source of a union’s power, and everywhere they have signed that right away. “No strike clauses,” which ban workers from striking during the course of a union contract, have been ubiquitous for decades — the price, companies argue, of having a contract at all. Breaking out of this power-sucking bargain is a vital task for the labor movement, if it ever wants to be able to stand up to corporate America in a meaningful way.
The good news is that at least one union is actively trying.