Today, trade in the stock exchange of my country Israel (TASE) was cancelled due to a union dispute. So clearly, in Israel the answer to the question in the title is "yes". I can't say this comes as a surprise, as our country was founded on the bedrock of socialism, and those roots last until this day. But this is unfortunate as such disruptions surely concern foreign investors (and justly so).

However, I cannot imagine the same happening in the US, and indeed I couldn't find such an occurrence. Did I miss anything? Reading in Wikipedia, it looks like both NYSE and TASE are public (non-government) companies. So how come we see stock exchange strikes in Israel (this is not the first) and not in the US?

Is it because in the US there are multiple stock exchanges as opposed to Israel where TASE is a monopoly? Is it because unions in Israel are more powerful than in the US (and if so, how and why)? Perhaps US stock exchange workers are somehow classified as essential workers who aren't permitted to strike (e.g. by force of the Taylor Law)?

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    $\begingroup$ Strikes are normally called by unions. The exchange would need to have workers that are unionised, and who are critical to operations. To answer this question, one would need to contact each exchange and see whether they are unionised. $\endgroup$ – Brian Romanchuk Jun 8 '20 at 16:39
  • $\begingroup$ What do you think would happen if they went on strike and they couldn't? $\endgroup$ – user253751 Nov 3 '20 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ @user253751 not sure I follow, generally when one does something illegal, one is prosecuted and punished according to the pertaining law... $\endgroup$ – Ohad Schneider Nov 3 '20 at 22:35
  • $\begingroup$ @OhadSchneider that doesn't help the traders though, the stock exchange is still closed. You can't stop people striking, you can only punish them for it. $\endgroup$ – user253751 Nov 4 '20 at 12:39
  • $\begingroup$ The threat of punishment will probably stop most people though, especially if that punishment is serious (e.g. jail). Don't get me wrong, I'm a libertarian, so if there's a market-based solution here I'm all for it. $\endgroup$ – Ohad Schneider Nov 4 '20 at 17:31

The Stock Exchange workers in US could strike if they wanted. The right to strike in US is enshrined in the US National Labor Relations Act of 1935. See also explanation of the law by the National Labor Relations Board to see conditions under which strike can occur. None of the conditions seem to exclude stock exchange workers.

However, as @BrianRomanchuk points in his +1 comment, strikes are normally called by unions. According to the statistics published by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2019 by occupation only $4.2\%$ workers were members of union and only $5.1\%$ represented by unions in the "Business and financial operations occupations" and if we look more narrowly only at finance as industry (which is arguably more appropriate for this question) the figures become $1.4\%$ and $2\%$. This being said I could not find any statistics specifically for only stock exchanges, but I would expect that unionization rates there would be lower than the aggregate for whole industry.

At the same time statistics show that people in the US working in finance and insurance industry were in 2018 ranked 4th in terms of average salary (see here).

So to sum up, people in US working in financial industry are not generally members of unions or even represented by unions. This would presumably make organizing any meaningful strike difficult. At the same time people working in finance industry in US are already in one of the highest paying professions meaning that there is most likely not much incentive to strike.

  • $\begingroup$ Upvoted, Thank you! Any idea why this is the case? Specifically, what can Israel do to more closely resemble the US in this regard? Is it because salaries in our finance sector are not as high? And if so, is that a chicken and egg situation where unions limit the high salaries that would have likely resulted in a free market? $\endgroup$ – Ohad Schneider Jun 8 '20 at 20:23
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    $\begingroup$ @OhadSchneider I would have to speculate here which is usually frown upon on this site, but I guess it’s because unions are not as powerful in the US. Even though you can strike in the US firms are still allowed to hire scabs/strike breakers - the strikers cannot be just outright fired but strikers in US have relatively less rights in US than let’s say in Germany or many other countries. Also US generally does not have strong tradition of industrial wide negotiations such as in Germany, it has very flexible labor markets, lot of competition- if you don’t like some place it’s easy to move and $\endgroup$ – 1muflon1 Jun 8 '20 at 21:04
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    $\begingroup$ So on. Relatively high wages definitely play a role as well. I mean why would you pay union fees in a situation when you already earn a lot and there is lot of competition for good traders. However, again these are speculations this would require some more serious research. $\endgroup$ – 1muflon1 Jun 8 '20 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ I just spent ~20 minutes searching and the only other country whose stock exchange trade halted due to a strike was Lebanon (aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/…) Have you heard of any others? If not, what could be so special about these two countries that make them so susceptible to union strikes in this area? $\endgroup$ – Ohad Schneider Jun 9 '20 at 17:06
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    $\begingroup$ @OhadSchneider no I never heard of any other countries they might just be outliers. Sounds like interesting research question $\endgroup$ – 1muflon1 Jun 9 '20 at 17:17

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