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Unionism Comes to the Public Sector

  • Freeman, Richard B

This paper argues that public sector labor relations is best understood in a framework that focuses on unions' ability to shift demand curves rather than to raise wages, as is the case in the private sector. It reviews the public sector labor relations literature and finds that: (i) public sector unionism has flourished as a result of changes in laws; (2) the effects of public sector unions on wages are likely to have been underestimated; (3) public sector unions have a somewhat different effect on wage structures than do private sector unions; (4) compulsory arbitration reduces strikes with no clearcut impact on the level of wage settlements; (5) public sector unions have diverse effects on non-wage outcomes as do private sector unions. In terms of evaluating public sector unionism, the paper argues that by raising both the cost of public services (taxes) and the amount of services public sector unionism involves a different welfare calculus than private sector unionism.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Literature.

Volume (Year): 24 (1986)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 41-86

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:24:y:1986:i:1:p:41-86
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  6. Max H. Bazerman & Henry S. Farber, 1983. "Arbitrator Decision Making: When Are Final Offers Important?," NBER Working Papers 1183, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Chambers, Jay G., 1977. "The impact of collective bargaining for teachers on resource allocation in public school districts," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 324-339, July.
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  13. Harry C. Katz, 1979. "The Municipal Budgetary Response to Changing Labor Costs: The Case of San Francisco," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 32(4), pages 506-519, July.
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  16. J. Joseph Loewenberg, 1970. "Compulsory Arbitration for Police and Fire Fighters in Pennsylvania in 1968," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 23(3), pages 367-379, April.
  17. Don Hellriegel & Wendell French & Richard B. Peterson, 1970. "Collective Negotiations and Teachers: A Behavioral Analysis," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 23(3), pages 380-396, April.
  18. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Daniel R. Sherman & Joshua L. Schwarz, 1983. "Unions and Productivity in the Public Sector: A Study of Municipal Libraries," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 36(2), pages 199-213, January.
  19. Crawford, Vincent P, 1979. "On Compulsory-Arbitration Schemes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(1), pages 131-59, February.
  20. William H. Baugh & Joe A. Stone, 1982. "Teachers, Unions, and Wages in the 1970s: Unionism Now Pays," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 35(3), pages 368-376, April.
  21. Thomas A. Kochan & Hoyt N. Wheeler, 1975. "Municipal Collective Bargaining: A Model and Analysis of Bargaining Outcomes," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 29(1), pages 46-66, October.
  22. Myron D. Fottler, 1977. "The Union Impact on Hospital Wages," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 30(3), pages 342-355, April.
  23. Thomas A. Kochan & Jean Baderschneider, 1978. "Dependence on Impasse Procedures: Police and Firefighters in New York State," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 31(4), pages 431-449, July.
  24. James B. Jacobs, 1982. "The Role of Military Forces in Public Sector Labor Relations," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 35(2), pages 163-180, January.
  25. Linda N. Edwards & Franklin R. Edwards, 1982. "Wellington-Winter Revisited: The Case of Municipal Sanitation Collection," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 35(3), pages 307-318, April.
  26. Charlotte Gold & Rodney E. Dennis & Joseph Graham III, 1978. "Reinstatement after Termination: Public School Teachers," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 31(3), pages 310-321, April.
  27. Arnold R. Weber, 1969. "Paradise Lost; Or Whatever Happened to the Chicago Social Workers?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 22(3), pages 323-338, April.
  28. Russell K. Schutt, 1982. "Models of Militancy: Support for Strikes and Work Actions among Public Employees," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 35(3), pages 406-422, April.
  29. Peter Feuille, 1979. "Selected Benefits and Costs of Compulsory Arbitration," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 33(1), pages 64-76, October.
  30. Orley Ashenfelter & David Bloom, 1983. "The Pitfalls in Judging Arbitrator Impartiality by Win-Loss Tallies Under Final-Offer Arbitration," Working Papers 543, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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  34. Sharon P. Smith, 1976. "Pay Differentials between Federal Government and Private Sector Workers," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 29(2), pages 179-197, January.
  35. David Shapiro, 1978. "Unions and Wages: Relative Wage Effects of Unions in the Public and Private Sectors," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 31(2), pages 193-204, January.
  36. Roger Feldman & Richard Scheffler, 1982. "The Union Impact on Hospital Wages and Fringe Benefits," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 35(2), pages 196-206, January.
  37. Orley Ashenfelter, 1971. "The Effect of Unionization on Wages in the Public Sector: The Case of Fire Fighters," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 24(2), pages 191-202, January.
  38. Daniel G. Gallagher & Richard Pegnetter, 1979. "Impasse Resolution under the Iowa Multistep Procedure," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 32(3), pages 327-338, April.
  39. Henry S. Farber & Harry C. Katz, 1979. "Interest Arbitration, Outcomes, and the Incentive to Bargain," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 33(1), pages 55-63, October.
  40. Russell L. Smith & Anne H. Hopkins, 1979. "Public Employee Attitudes toward Unions," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 32(4), pages 484-495, July.
  41. Ehrenberg, Ronald G, 1973. "The Demand for State and Local Government Employees," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(3), pages 366-79, June.
  42. David B. Ross, 1969. "The Arbitration of Public Employee Wage Disputes," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 23(1), pages 3-14, October.
  43. Ehrenberg, Ronald G. & Schwarz, Joshua L., 1987. "Public-sector labor markets," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 22, pages 1219-1260 Elsevier.
  44. Smith, Sharon P., 1977. "Government wage differentials," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 248-271, July.
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