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Fewer Workers Idled By Strikes In 2008

Major work stoppages idled 72,000 workers for nearly 2 million workdays, Labor Department said, compared to 189,000 workers idled for 1.3 million workdays in 2007.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- As the U.S. financial crisis took hold last year, there were far fewer workers idled because of major work stoppages, according to new government data.

Major work stoppages idled 72,000 workers for nearly 2 million workdays in 2008, the Labor Department said Wednesday. In 2007, there were 189,000 workers idled for 1.3 million workdays.

There were 15 major lockouts and strikes involving 1,000 or more workers in 2008, compared to 21 in 2007.

The largest work stoppage last year in terms of total days idle and number of workers was between airplane maker and defense contractor Boeing Co. and the International Association of Machinists. According to the Labor Department, 27,000 workers were idled accounting for 1,053,000 lost workdays.

The longest work stoppage that began in 2008 was between American Axle & Manufacturing Inc. and the United Auto Workers International union. It lasted 63 days, according to the Labor Department. Another long stoppage, between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the Writers Guild of America, was in effect in 2008, but began in 2007. It lasted 68 days.

Of the 15 major work stoppages beginning in 2008, 12 were in private industry and three were in state and local government.

The mean length of a major work stoppage in 2008 was 14.9 days, up from 10.5 days in 2007. However, the majority of work stoppages in 2008 were shorter with nine lasting 10 days or less, the Labor Department said.

The major work stoppages series, which dates back to 1947, covers strikes and lockouts involving 1,000 or more employees and lasting at least one full shift. For work stoppages that began before 2008, only days of idleness in calendar year 2008 are counted.

According to the Labor Department, days of idleness are calculated by taking the number of workers involved in the strike or lockout and multiplying it by the number of days workers are off the job. The number of working days lost for every major work stoppage is based on a five-day workweek (Monday through Friday), excluding federal holidays.

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