Workers on strike walking in a circle

There’s an old movie on that depicts workers on strike, who are walking around in a big circle. Was there a union rule or local law that required striking workers to ‘keep moving’? For example, by walking in a circle, they might circumvent ‘anti-loitering’ laws?

I’d expect that it’s just to draw more attention to themselves.

It’s more cinematic to show people moving than it is to show them standing still.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a circulating picket line in real life. I’ve seen it in movies and on TV shows, but not at a real strike. It’s possible that rules used to be different, but I suspect this is something that was invented for the movies.

Makes sense. The Union Strike Rat balloon hadn’t been invented yet.

I’ve heard it originated with laws that prevented workers from simply blocking the entrance to a business, but walking back and forth in front of it was legal.

A variant of the anti-loitering issue was picketers liked to block entrances to sites: gates and driveways. Just standing there blocking them was going to lead arrests. But if you kept walking back and forth past them it was a different matter.

Passing thru such lines could be quite scary to some people, so it reduced the size of the willing scab pool.

Exactly - standing there blocking traffic trying to use an entranceway is illegal and you can get arrested (in most places). But, a continuous line of people walking back and forth across the entrance driveway is no different than the usual sidewalk traffic - so as long as you keep moving, you can make it difficult to get people in and product out of the plant.

Some jurisdictions, at least in Canada, if the union blocks the entrance to a facility then eventually the employer can get an injunction against them; so they tactically slow things down - let a vehicle through every few minutes - to make life difficult for the employer while not blocking seriously enough to get the courts to step in.

I’ve been on picket lines with dozens or hundreds of people, and there are usually ordinances that require you to keep moving. Usually the same when it’s just a few people, but it’s not usually as strongly enforced.

The local police are almost always on the side of the company owners/managers, and will use every possible legal technicality to arrest strikers.

One of the common ones is to use ‘vagrancy’ or ‘loitering’ ordinances as an excuse to arrest strikers. They will say these people were ‘just standing around’ in a suspicious manner. Continually walking the picket line (in a circle, so you get back to the beginning) makes it harder for police to make that charge stick.