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The Union Threat Effect in Construction: An Illustration with Data from Plumber and Pipefitter Union Locals


Author Info

  • Kevin Duncan

    (Hasan School of Business, Colorado State University-Pueblo)

  • Peter Philips

    (Department of Economics, University of Utah)

  • Mark Prus

    (Department of Economics, State University of New York, Cortland)

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    Data from plumbing and pipefitting union locals are used to measure the effect of union organizing strength on the wages of high-skilled and semi-skilled nonunion workers. We find that increases in union strength are associated with higher wages for nonunion journeymen. However, the wages of lower skilled, nonunion journeymen helpers are not related to our measures of union recruitment power. These results are consistent with the organizing tactic of labor stripping where skilled nonunion workers are convinced to leave their nonunion employers and join the union. Greater union strength is not associated with higher wages for union journeymen. Rather, these workers derive increased employment opportunities where the union is strong. Our results suggest that the union threat effect is different in the construction industry where unions develop unique strategies due to the nature of the industry.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by University of Otago, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0804.

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    Length: 23 pages
    Date of creation: May 2008
    Date of revision: May 2008
    Handle: RePEc:otg:wpaper:0804

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    Related research

    Keywords: union threat effect; union-nonunion wage gap; construction;

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