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Employer Behavior in the Face of Union Organizing Drives

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  • Richard B. Freeman
  • Morris M. Kleiner

Abstract

Using data from a 1986 survey of employers and a 1982–83 survey of union organizers, the authors investigate the determinants and consequences of employer opposition to union organizing drives. They find that strong management opposition, as evidenced by, for example, the filing of formal charges of unfair labor practices against management, was most likely when the firm had relatively low wages, poor working conditions, and supervisory problems; when the likelihood of union victory was uncertain; and when the potential union compensation differential—and thus the potential effect on firm profits—was high. Opposition by supervisors was particularly effective in defeating union drives. The authors conclude that firms' responses to organizing drives were consistent with the motive of profit maximization, and that management opposition has been an important determinant of the decline of unionization.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard B. Freeman & Morris M. Kleiner, 1990. "Employer Behavior in the Face of Union Organizing Drives," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(4), pages 351-365, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ilrrev:v:43:y:1990:i:4:p:351-365
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Freeman, Richard B, 1988. "Contraction and Expansion: The Divergence of Private Sector and Public Sector Unionism in the United States," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 63-88, Spring.
    2. William T. Dickens, 1983. "The Effect of Company Campaigns on Certification Elections: Law and Reality Once Again," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 36(4), pages 560-575, July.
    3. Richard B. Freeman & Morris M. Kleiner, 1988. "The Impact Of New Unionization On Wages And Working Conditions: A Longitudinal Study Of Establishments Under NLRB Elections," NBER Working Papers 2563, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Clark, Kim B, 1984. "Unionization and Firm Performance: The Impact on Profits, Growth, and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 893-919, December.
    5. William T. Dickens & Jonathan S. Leonard, 1985. "Accounting for the Decline in Union Membership, 1950–1980," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 38(3), pages 323-334, April.
    6. Thomas A. Kochan & Robert B. McKersie & John Chalykoff, 1986. "The Effects of Corporate Strategy and Workplace Innovations on Union Representation," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 39(4), pages 487-501, July.
    7. 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.
    8. William N. Cooke, 1985. "The Failure to Negotiate First Contracts: Determinants and Policy Implications," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 38(2), pages 163-178, January.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Robert Hickey & Sarosh Kuruvilla & Tashlin Lakhani, 2010. "No Panacea for Success: Member Activism, Organizing and Union Renewal," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 48(1), pages 53-83, March.
    2. repec:eee:jaecon:v:65:y:2018:i:2:p:331-357 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Cynthia Estlund, 2007. "The Ossification of American Labor Law and the Decline of Self-governance in the Workplace," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 28(4), pages 591-608, September.
    4. Rebitzer, James B., 1994. "Structural, Microeconomic and Institutional Explanations for Union Decline in the United States," Economic Review, Hitotsubashi University, vol. 45(1), pages 41-52, January.
    5. Rafael Gomez & Konstantinos Tzioumis, 2006. "What Do Unions Do to Executive Compensation?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0720, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    6. Cassandra M.D. Hart & Aaron J. Sojourner, 2015. "Unionization and Productivity: Evidence from Charter Schools," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(3), pages 422-448, July.
    7. Bryson, Alex & Freeman, Richard B. & Gomez, Rafael & Willman, Paul, 2017. "The Twin Track Model of Employee Voice: An Anglo-American Perspective on Union Decline and the Rise of Alternative Forms of Voice," IZA Discussion Papers 11223, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Marco de Pinto & Jochen Michaelis, 2017. "Firm Selection and the Role of Union Heterogeneity," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201743, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    9. Richard Disney & Amanda Gosling & Stephen Machin, 1994. "British Unions in Decline: An Examination of the 1980s Fall in Trade Union Recognition," NBER Working Papers 4733, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Ruiz-Verdu, Pablo, 2007. "The economics of union organization: Efficiency, information and profitability," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(5), pages 848-868, October.
    11. Palley, Thomas I. & LaJeunesse, Robert M., 2007. "Social attitudes, labor law, and union organizing: Toward a new economics of union density," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 237-254, February.
    12. Ruiz-Verdú, Pablo, 2002. "Employer behavior when workers can unionize," DEE - Working Papers. Business Economics. WB wb020803, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía de la Empresa.
    13. COZZI, Guido & TAROLA, Ornella, 2004. "Mergers, innovation, and inequality," CORE Discussion Papers 2004006, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    14. Corneo, Giacomo, 1995. "Social custom, management opposition, and trade union membership," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 275-292, February.

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