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Individually-Relational Union Membership

  • Bulkley, G.
  • Myles, G.D.

The analysis of the determination of union membership has typically met difficulties with the fact that union membership is not individually rational and free-riding is the dominant strategy. We assume that workers differ in their reservation wages and hence in their preferred choice of contract, so preventing free-riding on the contract choice of others. This implies that joining a union is equivalent to buying a vote on the contract and provides an individual incentive to join the union. An equilibrium trade union membership is characterized in which membership is taken up by those with relatively "extreme" tastes. The union achieves a centralist objective even though no member precisely supports such a view.

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Paper provided by Exeter University, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 0008.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:exe:wpaper:0008
Contact details of provider: Postal: Streatham Court, Rennes Drive, Exeter EX4 4PU
Phone: (01392) 263218
Fax: (01392) 263242
Web page: http://business-school.exeter.ac.uk/about/departments/economics/

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  1. Booth, Alison L, 1985. "The Free Rider Problem and a Social Custom Model of Trade Union Membership," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(1), pages 253-61, February.
  2. Moreton, David R., 1998. "An open shop trade union model of wages, effort and membership," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 511-527, August.
  3. Myles, G.D. & Naylor, R.A., 1990. "Do Union Reduce Discrimination? A Model Of Nash Bargaining Between A Union And An Employeur With Discriminatory Tastes," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 366, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  4. Vannetelbosch, Vincent J., 1997. "Wage bargaining with incomplete information in an unionized Cournot oligopoly," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 353-374, May.
  5. Bulkley, G. & Myles, G.D. & Pearson, B.R., 2000. "On the Membership of Decision-Making Committees," Discussion Papers 0009, Exeter University, Department of Economics.
  6. Naylor, Robin, 1987. "Strikes, Free Riders and Social Customs," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 275, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  7. Bulkley, George & Myles, Gareth D., 1997. "Bargaining over effort," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 375-384, May.
  8. Naylor, Robin & Cripps, Martin, 1993. "An economic theory of the open shop trade union," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 1599-1620, December.
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