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Product Market Competition, Union Organizing Activity, and Employer Resistence

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  • John M. Abowd
  • Henry S. Farber

Abstract

We develop and estimate a model of the union's optimal extent of organizing activity that accounts for the decision of employers regarding resistance to union organizing. The central exogenous variable in the analysis is the quantity of quasi-rents per worker available to be split between unions and employers. We measure available quasi-rents per worker as the difference per worker between total industry revenues net of raw materials costs and labor costs evaluated at the opportunity cost of the workers. Using two-digit industry level data for thirty-five U.S. industries for the period 1955 through 1986, we find that both organizing activity and employer resistance to unionization are positively related to available quasi-rents per worker. However, there is still a strong negative trend in union organizing activity and a strong positive trend in employer resistance after controlling for quasi-rents per worker. Thus, the explanation for the decline in union organizing activity and the increase in employer resistance to unionization since the mid 1970's lies elsewhere.

Suggested Citation

  • John M. Abowd & Henry S. Farber, 1990. "Product Market Competition, Union Organizing Activity, and Employer Resistence," NBER Working Papers 3353, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3353 Note: LS
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kevin M. Murphy & Finis Welch, 1992. "The Structure of Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 285-326.
    2. Brown, James N & Ashenfelter, Orley, 1986. "Testing the Efficiency of Employment Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 40-87, June.
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    4. Carruth, Alan A & Oswald, Andrew J, 1985. "Miners' Wages in Post-war Britain: An Application of a Model of Trade Union Behaviour," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 95(380), pages 1003-1020, December.
    5. Gibbons, R. & Katz, L., 1989. "Does Unmeasured Ability Explain Inter-Industry Wage Differences," Working papers 543, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    6. Abowd, John M, 1989. "The Effect of Wage Bargains on the Stock Market Value of the Firm," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 774-800, September.
    7. Farber, Henry S, 1978. "Individual Preferences and Union Wage Determination: The Case of the United Mine Workers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 923-942, October.
    8. MaCurdy, Thomas E & Pencavel, John H, 1986. "Testing between Competing Models of Wage and Employment Determination in Unionized Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 3-39, June.
    9. Nancy L. Rose, 1985. "The Incidence of Regulatory Rents in the Motor Carrier Industry," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, pages 299-318.
    10. repec:fth:harver:1464 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Magnani, Elisabetta & Prentice, David, 2003. "Did globalization reduce unionization? Evidence from US manufacturing," Labour Economics, Elsevier, pages 705-726.
    2. Rafael Gomez & Konstantinos Tzioumis, 2006. "What Do Unions Do to Executive Compensation?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0720, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    3. Marcello Estevao & Stacey Tevlin, 2003. "Do Firms Share their Success with Workers? The Response of Wages to Product Market Conditions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 70(280), pages 597-617, November.
    4. Elisabetta Magnani & David Prentice, 2010. "Outsourcing And Unionization: A Tale Of Misallocated (Resistance) Resources," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(2), pages 460-482, April.
    5. Elisabetta Magnani & David Prentice, 2000. "Unionisation, short-run flexibility and cost efficiency: Evidence from U.S. manufacturing," Working Papers 2000.04, School of Economics, La Trobe University.
    6. Henry S. Farber, 1987. "The Decline of Unionization in the United States: What can Be Learned from Recent Experience?," NBER Working Papers 2267, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Edgar Preugschat, 2009. "Unionization Patterns and Firm Reallocation," 2009 Meeting Papers 1114, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. repec:wsi:serxxx:v:59:y:2014:i:04:n:s0217590814500295 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Samantha Farmakis‐Gamboni & David Prentice, 2011. "When Does Reducing Union Bargaining Power Increase Productivity? Evidence from the Workplace Relations Act," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 87(279), pages 603-616, December.
    10. Sojourner, Aaron J. & Frandsen, Brigham R. & Town, Robert J. & Grabowski, David C. & Chen, Michelle M., 2014. "Impacts of Unionization on Quality and Productivity: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Nursing Homes," IZA Discussion Papers 8240, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. 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.
    12. Samantha Farmakis-Gamboni & David Prentice, 2007. "Does Reducing Union Bargaining Power Increase Productivity?," Working Papers 2007.04 EDIRC Provider-In, School of Economics, La Trobe University.
    13. Steven G. Allen, 1994. "Updated Notes on the Interindustry Wage Structure," NBER Working Papers 4664, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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