Hope against Hope: Persistent Canadian Unions in the Interwar Years
Current forecasts paint a dismal future for unions; observers in the 1920s and 1930s also projected bleak prospects for organized labor. Analysts in the interwar years were off the mark. This paper seeks to investigate whether the revival of the labor movement before WWII was the result of institutional change, in particular the coming of the CIO, or the outcome of an internal dynamic that gave rise to rapid declines and spurts in growth. We test these two views in a war-of-attrition context, using a newly constructed data set on Canadian strikes between 1920 and 1939. Estimation is undertaken in a competing-risks framework. We find that workers did not cave in when employers sought to break their unions, and under certain conditions workers could outlast employers. The increasing proportion of worker wins in the early to mid 1930s led to the rise in union membership observed before the arrival of the CIO in Canada in 1937. We conclude that current predictions regarding the end of unions in the twenty-first century may prove to be premature. Tout comme les analystes contemporains, certains observateurs des années 1920 et 1930 prédisaient un avenir sombre à la syndicalisation. Leurs prévisions étaient fausses. Cet article vise à vérifier si la renaissance des syndicats avant la Deuxième Guerre mondiale est associée à un changement organisationnel, soit l'arrivée du CIO, ou le résultat d'une dynamique interne qui produit des périodes de croissance et de décroissance rapide. En utilisant une nouvelle banque de données sur les grèves au Canada entre 1920 et 1939, dans un modèle de guerre d'usure, cet article teste ces deux propositions. Nous trouvons que les travailleurs n'ont pas reculé face aux menaces des employeurs et dans certains cas ils ont remporté des conflits. Grâce à ces grèves gagnantes, le nombre de travailleurs syndiqués s'est accru même avant le CIO. On conclut que les prévisions courantes vouant les syndicats à la disparition au vingt-et-unième siècle sont prématurées.
|Date of creation:||01 Sep 2000|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: 1130 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, suite 1400, Montréal, Quéc, H3A 2M8|
Phone: (514) 985-4000
Fax: (514) 985-4039
Web page: http://www.cirano.qc.ca/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Peter Cramton & Morley Gunderson & Joseph Tracy, 1999.
"The Effect Of Collective Bargaining Legislation On Strikes And Wages,"
The Review of Economics and Statistics,
MIT Press, vol. 81(3), pages 475-487, August.
- Peter C. Cramton & Morley Gunderson & Joseph S. Tracy, 1995. "The Effect of Collective Bargaining Legislation on Strikes and Wages," NBER Working Papers 5105, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Peter Cramton & Morley Gunderson & Joseph Tracy, 1999. "The Effect of Collective Bargaining Legislation on Strikes and Wages," Papers of Peter Cramton 99res, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 30 Jul 1998.
- Michael D. Bordo & Claudia Goldin & Eugene N. White, 1998. "The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bord98-1, June.
- Card, David & Olson, Craig A, 1995. "Bargaining Power, Strike Durations, and Wage Outcomes: An Analysis of Strikes in the 1880s," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(1), pages 32-61, January.
- David Card & Craig A. Olson, 1992. "Bargaining Power, Strike Durations, and Wage Outcomes: An Analysis of Strikes in the 1880s," Working Papers 674, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
- David Card & Craig A. Olson, 1992. "Bargaining Power, Strike Duration, and Wage Outcomes: An Analysis of Strikes in the 1880s," NBER Working Papers 4075, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Richard B. Freeman, 1998. "Spurts in Union Growth: Defining Moments and Social Processes," NBER Chapters,in: The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century, pages 265-296 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Richard B. Freeman, 1997. "Spurts in Union Growth: Defining Moments and Social Processes," NBER Working Papers 6012, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Rosenbloom, Joshua L., 1998. "Strikebreaking and the Labor Market in the United States, 1881–1894," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(01), pages 183-205, March.
- Harrison, Alan & Stewart, Mark, 1989. "Cyclical Fluctuations in Strike Durations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 827-841, September.
- Kennan, John, 1985. "The duration of contract strikes in U.S. manufacturing," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 5-28, April. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:2000s-28. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Webmaster)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.