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The Impact of Right-to-Work Laws on Union Organizing


  • David T. Ellwood
  • Glenn A. Fine


In contrast to previous studies which have examined the impact of Right-to-Work (RTW) laws on the level or stock of union membership, this paper examines their impact on the most updated flow into membership and the organizing of workers through certified elections. Since detailed annual data are available by state, we are able to estimate an accelerator model of the flow into unionism, and adjust for possible omitted variable and simultaneity bias. The results show dramatic falls in organizing immediately after the passage of a RTW law, with more moderate declines in later years, just as an accelerator model could predict. Overall, the results are consistent with a 5-10 percent reduction in unionism as a result of the passage of RTW laws.

Suggested Citation

  • David T. Ellwood & Glenn A. Fine, 1983. "The Impact of Right-to-Work Laws on Union Organizing," NBER Working Papers 1116, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1116
    Note: LS

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    Cited by:

    1. Joseph Tracy, 1988. "Comparisons Between Public and Private Sector Union Wage Differentials: Does the Legal Environment Matter?," NBER Working Papers 2755, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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