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Copyright (c) 1999 Boston College International & Comparative Law Review
Boston College International and Comparative Law Review

ARTICLE: Strikes and Lockouts in Germany and Under Federal Legislation in the United States: A Comparative Analysis

Winter, 1999

22 B.C. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 29


David Westfall * & Gregor Thusing **



An observer from another planet looking at German and American labor law could not fail to be impressed by the sharp dichotomy in the treatment of strikes and lockouts in each legal system and, perhaps, to wonder whether either system would be improved if it borrowed from the other. Of course, what would constitute an improvement depends upon the purposes the system serves and the interests that it is intended to protect. In both countries, it is a truism that strikes -- and, even more importantly, the threat of strikes -- play a major role in supporting the demands of employees and insuring that what occurs when unions negotiate with employers is indeed collective bargaining, not "collective begging." 1 A major challenge is to permit strikes and lockouts to play their role without becoming overly burdensome for some or all of the interested parties -- employees, employers, and the public. Thus, regulations that limit such burdens without making these rights meaningless may serve an important public purpose.

A. Possible Uses of Comparative Analysis

Even the most tentative conclusions derived from any attempt at comparative analysis must be qualified by the recognition that there is often a vast gulf between any part of a legal system as it appears in published sources and its operation in the real world. A less obvious qualification is that this difference is highly dependent on the national culture and value system. 2 For example, the real-world application of German labor law seems to ...
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