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Union Wage Practices and Wage Dispersion within Establishments


  • Richard B. Freeman


This study analyzes establishment-level data primarily to examine the effect of unionism on the wage structure within establishments. The major finding is that within-establishment dispersion of wages is significantly narrower in unionized than in nonunionized establishments, a pattern the author attributes in large part to unions' wage practices, such as single rate or automatic-progression modes of wage payment as opposed to merit reviews and individual wage determination. The data also show that dispersion in average wages is narrower among organized plants, but by more modest amounts than the within-establishment differential. Overall, the evidence suggests a major role for explicit union wage policies in explaining the dispersion of wages within firms and in the economy as a whole.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard B. Freeman, 1982. "Union Wage Practices and Wage Dispersion within Establishments," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 36(1), pages 3-21, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ilrrev:v:36:y:1982:i:1:p:3-21
    DOI: 10.1177/001979398203600101

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