Labor Conflicts and the Role of Lockouts From a Comparative Perspective: A Legal Study of American and German Approaches

Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Closed Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.)


Duke University School of Law


The subject of lockouts does not seem to present a major issue in contemporary American labor relations. In the Federal Republic of Germany. The permissibility of lockouts has been, during the last two decades, and continues to be a major topic of discussion in the area of labor-management relations. This observation inspired a search for some answers about the role and effects of lockouts in both countries. It was hoped that these answers would explain the seemingly contrasting legal development on the law of lockouts in the United States and Germany.

The study begins with a brief review of the distinctive features of the American and German industrial relations systems for a better understanding of bargaining structures and processes. Since lockouts must be assessed in the broader contest of interest conflicts, the study proceeds with an examination of the historical development and the importance of organized labor conflicts and lockouts in collective bargaining. After analyzing the nature, purpose and various types of lockouts in addition to certain procedural requirements related to the use of lockouts, the study investigates the effects of lockouts on employers, employees, unions, the public and the economy at large. A major part of the research concentrates on the American and German approaches to developing and enforcing the law of lockouts.

The study concludes that in the United States, lockouts are rare because other, more effective employer measures are used to counter strike activity. In Germany, on the other hand, the lockout has become, for the employer, the functional counterpart of organized strike activity and an instrument of practical necessity, especially in major interest conflicts.

The contrasting postwar development in the law of lockouts is reflected by the different use of this employer measure in American and German labor conflicts. Moreover, structural differences in the two industrial relations systems as well as different attitudes and approaches of the bargaining parties further explain the contrasting development in both countries.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Labor disputes, Strikes and lockouts--Law and legislation, United States, Germany (West)