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The Use of Replacement Workers in Union Contract Negotiations: The U.S. Experience, 1980-1989

  • Peter C. Cramton
  • Joseph S. Tracy

It is argued in many circles that a structural change occurred in U.S. collective bargaining in the 1980s. We investigate the extent to which the hiring of replacement workers can account for this change. For a sample of over 300 major strikes since 1980, we estimate the likelihood of replacements being hired. We find that the risk of replacement declines during tight labor markets, and is lower for bargaining units with more experienced workers. We use the predicted replacement risk as an explanatory variable in a model of the union's choice between the strike and holdout threat. We find that strike usage decreases significantly as the predicted replacement risk increases. We estimate that a ban on the use of replacement workers would have increased strike incidence from 1982-1989 by 3 percentage points, a 30 percent increase.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5106.

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Date of creation: May 1995
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Publication status: published as Journal of Labor Economics, Vol.16, no.4 (October 1998), pp. 667-701.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5106
Note: LS
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  1. 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.
  2. Daniel J. B. Mitchell, 1982. "Recent Union Contract Concessions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 13(1), pages 165-204.
  3. Steven G. Allen, 1996. "Technology and the Wage Structure," NBER Working Papers 5534, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. John F. Schnell & Cynthia L. Gramm, 1994. "The empirical relations between employers' striker replacement strategies and strike duration," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(2), pages 189-206, January.
  5. Reder, Melvin W & Neumann, George R, 1980. "Conflict and Contract: The Case of Strikes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(5), pages 867-86, October.
  6. Henry S. Farber & Alan B. Krueger, 1992. "Union Membership in the United States: The Decline Continues," NBER Working Papers 4216, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Bartel, Ann P & Sicherman, Nachum, 1998. "Technological Change and the Skill Acquisition of Young Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(4), pages 718-55, October.
  8. Peter Cramton & Joseph S. Tracy, 1992. "Strikes and Holdouts in Wage Bargaining: Theory and Data," Papers of Peter Cramton 92aer, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 09 Jun 1998.
  9. Admati, Anat R & Perry, Motty, 1987. "Strategic Delay in Bargaining," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(3), pages 345-64, July.
  10. Bartel, A.P. & Sicherman, N., 1995. "Technological Change and the Skill Acquisition of Young Workers," Papers 95-10, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
  11. Gunderson, Morley & Melino, Angelo, 1990. "The Effects of Public Policy on Strike Duration," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(3), pages 295-316, July.
  12. John F. Schnell & Cynthia L. Gramm, 1994. "The Empirical Relations between Employers' Striker Replacement Strategies and Strike Duration," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(2), pages 189-206, January.
  13. Cynthia L. Gramm & John F. Schnell, 1994. "Some Empirical Effects Of Using Permanent Striker Replacements," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 12(3), pages 122-133, 07.
  14. Gunderson, Morley & Kervin, John & Reid, Frank, 1986. "Logit Estimates of Strike Incidence from Canadian Contract Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(2), pages 257-76, April.
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