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Sick-Ins

The Sick-In is a good way to strike without striking. The idea is to cripple your workplace by having all or most of the workers call in sick on the same day or days. Unlike the formal walkout, it can be used effectively by single departments and work areas, and can often be successfully used even without a formal union organization. It is the traditional method of direct action for public employee unions, which are legally prevented from striking.

At a New England mental hospital, just the thought of a Sick-In got results. A shop steward, talking to a supervisor about a fired union member, casually mentioned that there was a lot of flu going around, and wouldn't it be too bad if there weren't enough healthy people to staff the wards. At the same time -- completely by coincidence, of course -- dozens of people were calling the personnel office to see how much sick time they had left. The supervisor got the message, and the union member was rehired.

Next page: "Good Work" Strikes