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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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Glazer, Amihai & Gradstein, Mark & Konrad, Kai A, 1998. "The Electoral Politics of Extreme Policies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(451), pages 1677-85, November.
  4. 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.
  5. Ronald Wintrobe, 2006. "Extremism, suicide terror, and authoritarianism," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 169-195, July.
  6. Joseph S. Tracy, 1986. "An Empirical Test of an Asymmetric Information Model of Strikes," NBER Working Papers 1870, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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.
  8. Oliver Hart, 1986. "Bargaining and Strikes," Working papers 423, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. Wintrobe,Ronald, 2006. "Rational Extremism," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521859646.
  10. Dixit, Avinash, 1979. "The Role of Investment in Entry-Deterrence," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 140, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Martin J. Osborne & Ariel Rubinstein, 2005. "Bargaining and Markets," Levine's Bibliography 666156000000000515, UCLA Department of Economics.
  14. Hayes, Beth, 1984. "Unions and Strikes with Asymmetric Information," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(1), pages 57-83, January.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  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. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Appelbaum, Elie, 1993. "Government policy and the firm's capital structure," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 1185-1196, August.
  21. Appelbaum, Elie, 2008. "Extremism as a strategic tool in conflicts," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 352-364, November.
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