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Union militancy and the probability of strikes

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  • Elie Appelbaum

    ()
    (Department of Economics, York University)

Abstract

The paper provides a model that explains the probability of strikes by the union's use of militancy as a strategic tool in bargaining. Militants are useful because they provide a credible threat, hence enhancing the union's bargaining position. Using a multi-stage bargaining game, we show that, in general, militants will be used by the union as a strategic tool. The strategic benefit of militancy is reflected by the fact that the wage and employment level will be higher in a union that uses militants, compared to a union that does not. We use the model to show that the level of militancy and the probability of a strike decrease with the union's power. This suggests that policies that increase the strength of the union will have, at least, a partial positive effect on social welfare. We also show that the model can be viewed as providing an equilibrium of a repeated game, an interpretation that can explain the probability of strikes even in the absence of militants.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by York University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2004_4.

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Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:yca:wpaper:2004_4

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Related research

Keywords: Strategic Militancy; Strikes; Credible Threats; Union Power; Labour Bargaining;

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References

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  1. Svejnar, Jan, 1986. "Bargaining Power, Fear of Disagreement, and Wage Settlements: Theory and Evidence from U.S. Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(5), pages 1055-78, September.
  2. Hayes, Beth, 1984. "Unions and Strikes with Asymmetric Information," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(1), pages 57-83, January.
  3. Booth, Alison & Cressy, Robert, 1990. "Erratum [Strikes with Asymmetric Information: Theory and Evidence]," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 52(4), pages 492, Special I.
  4. Oswald, Andrew J, 1982. "Trade Unions, Wages and Unemployment: What Can Simple Models Tell Us?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(3), pages 526-45, November.
  5. Ashenfelter, Orley & Johnson, George E, 1969. "Bargaining Theory, Trade Unions, and Industrial Strike Activity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(1), pages 35-49, March.
  6. Glazer, A. & Konrad, K.A., 1995. "The Electoral Politics of Extreme Policies," Papers 94-95-23, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
  7. Dixit, Avinash, 1979. "The Role of Investment in Entry-Deterrence," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 140, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  8. Farber, Henry S, 1978. "Bargaining Theory, Wage Outcomes, and the Occurrence of Strikes: An Econometric Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(3), pages 262-71, June.
  9. Martin J. Osborne & Ariel Rubinstein, 2005. "Bargaining and Markets," Levine's Bibliography 666156000000000515, UCLA Department of Economics.
  10. Appelbaum, Elie, 2008. "Extremism as a strategic tool in conflicts," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 352-364, November.
  11. Tracy, Joseph S, 1987. "An Empirical Test of an Asymmetric Information Model of Strikes," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(2), pages 149-73, April.
  12. Booth, Alison & Cressy, Robert, 1990. "Strikes with Asymmetric Information: Theory and Evidence," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 52(3), pages 269-91, August.
  13. Atkinson, Scott E & Sandler, Todd & Tschirhart, John, 1987. "Terrorism in a Bargaining Framework," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(1), pages 1-21, April.
  14. Hart, Oliver, 1989. "Bargaining and Strikes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(1), pages 25-43, February.
  15. Ronald Wintrobe, 2006. "Extremism, suicide terror, and authoritarianism," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 169-195, July.
  16. Blomberg, S. Brock & Hess, Gregory D. & Weerapana, Akila, 2004. "Economic conditions and terrorism," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 463-478, June.
  17. S. Brock Blomberg & Gregory D. Hess & Akila Weerapana, 2004. "An Economic Model of Terrorism," Conflict Management and Peace Science, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 21(1), pages 17-28, February.
  18. Wintrobe,Ronald, 2006. "Rational Extremism," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521859646, April.
  19. Appelbaum, Elie, 1993. "Government policy and the firm's capital structure," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 1185-1196, August.
  20. Besancenot, Damien & Vranceanu, Radu, 1999. "A trade union model with endogenous militancy: interpreting the French case," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 355-373, September.
  21. Simon P. Anderson & Michael Devereux, 1989. "Profit-Sharing and Optimal Labour Contracts," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 22(2), pages 425-33, May.
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