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What Do Unions Do?-- The 2004 M-Brane Stringtwister Edition

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  • RICHARD B. FREEMAN

Abstract

The Journal of Labor Research 20th anniversary symposium review of What Do Unions Do? offers a unique opportunity to examine how the claims made in the book have fared in ensuing research and to ponder what parts of the book I would change if I could. This paper responds to the 18 critical essays in the journal. It recognizes three major errors of omission: failure to take account of unionism outside the US; failure to analyze public sector unionism; and failure to analyze the effects of unionism on economic growth; and the problem of determining the "optimal level of unionism" on the basis of estimates of what unions do. Ensuing research has found that What Do Unions Do? correctly identified union effects on turnover, fringe benefits, earnings inequality, political action, profits, managerial flexibility and human resource management, and that wage effects vary widely. Estimates of the union effect on productivity tend to be positive but modest, ruling out negative effects on average, but not conclusively establishing positive effects. Critical comments from some of the symposium panelists notwithstanding, I believe that the bulk of the evidence supports the What Do Unions Do? claim that management opposition has been a major factor in the decline in union density in the US.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Transaction Publishers in its journal Journal of Labor Research.

Volume (Year): 26 (2005)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 641-668

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Handle: RePEc:tra:jlabre:v:26:y:2005:i:4:p:641-668

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Web page: http://transactionpub.metapress.com/link.asp?target=journal&id=110581

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References

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  1. David Card & Thomas Lemieux & W. Craig Riddell, 2004. "Unions and Wage Inequality," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 25(4), pages 519-562, October.
  2. Rogers, Joel & Streeck, Wolfgang (ed.), 1995. "Works Councils," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226723761, янваÑ.
  3. Richard B. Freeman & Robert Valletta, 1988. "The Effects of Public Sector Labor Laws on Labor Market Institutions and Outcomes," NBER Chapters, in: When Public Sector Workers Unionize, pages 81-106 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  6. James T. Bennett & Bruce E. Kaufman, 2004. "What Do Unions Do?: A Twenty-Year Perspective," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 25(3), pages 339-350, July.
  7. Toke Aidt & Zafiris Tzannatos, 2002. "Unions and Collective Bargaining : Economic Effects in a Global Environment," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15241, October.
  8. Chris Doucouliagos & Patrice Laroche, 2007. "Unions and Profitability: A Meta-Analysis," Economics Series 2007_01, Deakin University, Faculty of Business and Law, School of Accounting, Economics and Finance.
  9. Richard B. Freeman & Edward P. Lazear, 1995. "An Economic Analysis of Works Councils," NBER Chapters, in: Works Councils: Consultation, Representation, and Cooperation in Industrial Relations, pages 27-52 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  14. David G. Blanchflower & Alex Bryson, 2004. "What Effect Do Unions Have on Wages Now and Would Freeman and Medoff Be Surprised?," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 25(3), pages 383-414, July.
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  16. Barry T. Hirsch, 1991. "Labor Unions and the Economic Performance of Unions," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number luepf.
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  18. Richard B. Freeman, 2005. "Labour Market Institutions Without Blinders: The Debate over Flexibility and Labour Market Performance," NBER Working Papers 11286, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Bruce E. Kaufman, 2005. "Historical Insights: The Early Institutionalists on Trade Unionism and Labor Policy," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 26(1), pages 1-32, January.
  20. Laroche, P., 2000. "What do Unions do to Productivity? A Meta-Analysis," Papers 2000-5, Groupe de recherche en économie financière et en gestion des entreprises, Universite Nancy 2.
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  25. John Pencavel, 2005. "Unionism Viewed Internationally," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 26(1), pages 65-97, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Chiara BROCCOLINI & Marco LILLA & Stefano STAFFOLANI, 2010. "A Search Model in a Segmented Labour Market: the Odd Role of Unions," Working Papers 349, Universita' Politecnica delle Marche (I), Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali.
  2. Fang, Tony & Ge, Ying, 2013. "Chinese Unions and Enterprises Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 7870, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. John T. Addison & Ralph W. Bailey & W. Stanley Siebert, 2009. "Wage Dispersion in a Partially Unionized Labor Force," GEMF Working Papers 2009-09, GEMF - Faculdade de Economia, Universidade de Coimbra.
  4. Chacaltana, Juan, 2009. "Economic implications of labour and labour-related laws on MSEs : a quick review of the Latin American experience," ILO Working Papers 433276, International Labour Organization.
  5. repec:ltr:wpaper:2006.03 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Patrice Laroche & Heidi Wechtler, 2011. "The Effects of Labor Unions on Workplace Performance: New Evidence from France," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 157-180, June.
  7. Elisabetta Magnani & David Prentice, 2010. "Outsourcing And Unionization: A Tale Of Misallocated (Resistance) Resources," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(2), pages 460-482, 04.
  8. Blanchflower, David G., 2006. "A Cross-Country Study of Union Membership," IZA Discussion Papers 2016, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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