Note: This request was inspired by a similar request by Forest Gregg, which FMCS denied for reasons that the Data Liberation Project believes were weakly supported.
The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) is an independent federal agency that helps to mediate labor-management disputes. As part of those efforts, it tracks work stoppages (strikes and lockouts) through its case management system.
For many years, FMCS proactively published data on the general characteristics of individual work stoppages. Those records included the following information for each ongoing and recently ended stoppage:
- Union Local
- Case Number
- BU (“number of workers in the Bargaining Unit”)
- City, State
- # Idled
- Start Date
- End Date
FMCS, however, appears to have ended this practice of proactive disclosure in late 2020. The section of the FMCS’s website that originally hosted the data has been removed, and the files do not appear to be available elsewhere, other than through archiving websites.
FMCS is unlikely to have stopped collecting this information. It is central to FMCS’s core mission and, moreover, FMCS appears to have continued supplying such information to the Bureau of Labor Statics, which republishes a subset of it online through the BLS’s Work Stoppages Program.
That program, however, publishes data only on the largest work stoppages, those involving 1,000 or more workers. To members of the public that ask, “Where do I find data on work stoppages with less than 1,000 workers?” BLS responds, “The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) issues a monthly report showing all private industry work stoppages.”
Our FOIA request 📄 to FMCS seeks database records describing the general characteristics of all FMCS-tracked work stoppages, plus all documentation of FMCS-0004, the system of records that appears to contain the records.