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Product Market Competition, Union Organizing Activity, and Employer Resistence

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  • John M. Abowd
  • Henry S. Farber

Abstract

We develop and estimate a model of the union's optimal extent of organizing activity that accounts for the decision of employers regarding resistance to union organizing. The central exogenous variable in the analysis is the quantity of quasi-rents per worker available to be split between unions and employers. We measure available quasi-rents per worker as the difference per worker between total industry revenues net of raw materials costs and labor costs evaluated at the opportunity cost of the workers. Using two-digit industry level data for thirty-five U.S. industries for the period 1955 through 1986, we find that both organizing activity and employer resistance to unionization are positively related to available quasi-rents per worker. However, there is still a strong negative trend in union organizing activity and a strong positive trend in employer resistance after controlling for quasi-rents per worker. Thus, the explanation for the decline in union organizing activity and the increase in employer resistance to unionization since the mid 1970's lies elsewhere.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3353.

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Date of creation: May 1990
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3353

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  1. Alan Carruth & Andrew Oswald, 1984. "Miners' Wages in Post-War Britain: An Application of a Model of Trade Union Behavior," Working Papers 558, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  2. Nancy L. Rose, 1985. "The Incidence of Regulatory Rents in the Motor Carrier Industry," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(3), pages 299-318, Autumn.
  3. Orley Ashenfelter & James N. Brown, 1985. "Testing the Efficiency of Employment Contracts," Working Papers 573, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. Gibbons, R. & Katz, L., 1989. "Does Unmeasured Ability Explain Inter-Industry Wage Differences," Working papers 543, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  5. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1992. "The Structure of Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 285-326, February.
  6. Farber, Henry S, 1978. "Individual Preferences and Union Wage Determination: The Case of the United Mine Workers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 923-42, October.
  7. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  8. Abowd, John M, 1989. "The Effect of Wage Bargains on the Stock Market Value of the Firm," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 774-800, September.
  9. repec:fth:harver:1464 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. MaCurdy, Thomas E & Pencavel, John H, 1986. "Testing between Competing Models of Wage and Employment Determination in Unionized Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages S3-S39, June.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Sojourner, Aaron J. & Frandsen, Brigham R. & Town, Robert J. & Grabowski, David C. & Chen, Michelle M., 2014. "Impacts of Unionization on Quality and Productivity: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Nursing Homes," IZA Discussion Papers 8240, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Steven G. Allen, 1994. "Updated Notes on the Interindustry Wage Structure," NBER Working Papers 4664, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Magnani, Elisabetta & Prentice, David, 2003. "Did globalization reduce unionization? Evidence from US manufacturing," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(6), pages 705-726, December.
  4. Rafael Gomez & Konstantinos Tzioumis, 2006. "What do unions do to executive compensation?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19865, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  5. Pablo Ruiz Verdú, 2002. "Employer Behavior When Workers Can Unionize," Business Economics Working Papers wb020803, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía de la Empresa.
  6. Elisabetta Magnani & David Prentice, 2006. "Outsourcing and Unionisation: A tale of misallocated (resistance) resources," Working Papers 2006.03, School of Economics, La Trobe University.
  7. repec:fth:prinin:309 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Samantha Farmakis-Gamboni & David Prentice, 2007. "Does Reducing Union Bargaining Power Increase Productivity?," Working Papers 2007.04, School of Economics, La Trobe University.
  9. Elisabetta Magnani & David Prentice, 2000. "Unionisation, short-run flexibility and cost efficiency: Evidence from U.S. manufacturing," Working Papers 2000.04, School of Economics, La Trobe University.
  10. Marcello Estevao & Stacey Tevlin, 2000. "Do firms share their success with workers? The response of wages to product market conditions," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-17, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  11. Samantha Farmakis‐Gamboni & David Prentice, 2011. "When Does Reducing Union Bargaining Power Increase Productivity? Evidence from the Workplace Relations Act," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 87(279), pages 603-616, December.
  12. Henry S. Farber, 1987. "The Decline of Unionization in the United States: What can Be Learned from Recent Experience?," NBER Working Papers 2267, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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