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Strikes, Scabs and Tread Separations: Labor Strife and the Production of Defective Bridgestone/Firestone Tires

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  • Alan B. Krueger
  • Alexandre Mas

Abstract

This paper provides a case study of the effect of labor relations on product quality. We consider whether a long, contentious strike and the hiring of permanent replacement workers by Bridgestone/Firestone in the mid-1990s contributed to the production of an excess number of defective tires. Using several independent data sources we find that labor strife in the Decatur plant closely coincided with lower product quality. Count data regression models based on two data sets of tire failures by plant, year and age show significantly higher failure rates for tires produced in Decatur during the labor dispute than before or after the dispute, or than at other plants. Also, an analysis of internal Firestone engineering tests indicates that P235 tires from Decatur performed less well if they were manufactured during the labor dispute compared with those produced after the dispute, or compared with those from other, non-striking plants. Monthly data suggest that the production of defective tires was particularly high around the time wage concessions were demanded by Firestone in early 1994 and when large numbers of replacement workers and permanent workers worked side by side in late 1995 and early 1996.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan B. Krueger & Alexandre Mas, 2003. "Strikes, Scabs and Tread Separations: Labor Strife and the Production of Defective Bridgestone/Firestone Tires," NBER Working Papers 9524, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9524
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
    2. Harry C. Katz & Thomas A. Kochan & Kenneth R. Gobeille, 1983. "Industrial Relations Performance, Economic Performance, and QWL Programs: An Interplant Analysis," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 37(1), pages 3-17, October.
    3. Morris M. Kleiner & Jonathan S. Leonard & Adam M. Pilarski, 1999. "Do Industrial Relations Affect Plant Performance?: The Case of Commercial Aircraft Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 7414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. repec:fth:prinin:461 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Alan Krueger & Alexandre Mas, 2002. "Strikes, Scabs and Tread Separations: Labor Strife and the Production of Defective Bridgestone/Firestone Tires," Working Papers 840, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    6. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    7. Alan B. Krueger & Alexandre Mas, 2004. "Strikes, Scabs, and Tread Separations: Labor Strife and the Production of Defective Bridgestone/Firestone Tires," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(2), pages 253-289, April.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J5 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining
    • M1 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration

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