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Individual Rights and Collective Agents: The Role of Old and New Workplace Institutions in the Regulation of Labor Markets

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  • David Weil

Abstract

Implementation of workplace policies--whether through enforcement of laws or administration of programs--raises the question of the interaction between institutions created to carry out laws and the activities of workplace based agents that directly (e.g. unions) or indirectly (e.g. insurance companies) represent the interests of workers. This paper argues that there are two distinctive roles required for agents in the implementation of workplace policies. First, the agent must somehow help solve the public goods problem inherent in workplace regulation. Second, the agent must be able to reduce the marginal cost of exercising rights conferred to workers that are an important feature of most regulatory programs. This article examines these issues in regard to implementing workplace policies in the U.S. and analyzes the comparative effectiveness of different workplace agents- from labor unions to alternative dispute resolution systems- in fulfilling these roles.

Suggested Citation

  • David Weil, 2003. "Individual Rights and Collective Agents: The Role of Old and New Workplace Institutions in the Regulation of Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 9565, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9565
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kimberly Ann. Elliott & Richard B. Freeman, 2004. "White Hats or Don Quixotes? Human Rights Vigilantes in the Global Economy," NBER Chapters,in: Emerging Labor Market Institutions for the Twenty-First Century, pages 47-98 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Reilly, Barry & Pierella Paci & Peter Holl, 1994. "Unions, safety committees and workplace injuries," Discussion Papers in Economics 2/94, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
    3. John T. Addison & McKinley L. Blackburn, 1994. "The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act: Effects on Notice Provision," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(4), pages 650-662, July.
    4. John W. Budd & Brian P. McCall, 1997. "The Effect of Unions on the Receipt of Unemployment Insurance Benefits," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 50(3), pages 478-492, April.
    5. Rebecca M. Blank & David E. Card, 1991. "Recent Trends in Insured and Uninsured Unemployment: Is There an Explanation?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1157-1189.
    6. Richard B. Freeman, 1985. "Unions, Pensions, and Union Pension Funds," NBER Chapters,in: Pensions, Labor, and Individual Choice, pages 89-122 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Trejo, Stephen J, 1991. "The Effects of Overtime Pay Regulation on Worker Compensation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 719-740, September.
    8. John T. Addison & McKinley L. Blackburn, 1994. "The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 181-190, Winter.
    9. Richard B. Freeman & Joni Hersch & Lawrence Mishel, 2004. "Emerging Labor Market Institutions for the Twenty-First Century," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number free04-1.
    10. George J. Stigler, 1974. "Free Riders and Collective Action: An Appendix to Theories of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 5(2), pages 359-365, Autumn.
    11. Butler, Richard J & Worrall, John D, 1983. "Workers' Compensation: Benefit and Injury Claims Rates in the Seventies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(4), pages 580-589, November.
    12. Viscusi, W Kip & O'Connor, Charles J, 1984. "Adaptive Responses to Chemical Labeling: Are Workers Bayesian Decision Makers?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 942-956, December.
    13. Barry Reilly & Pierella Paci & Peter Holl, 1995. "Unions, Safety Committees and Workplace Injuries," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 33(2), pages 275-288, June.
    14. Joel Rogers, 1995. "United States: Lessons from Abroad and Home," NBER Chapters,in: Works Councils: Consultation, Representation, and Cooperation in Industrial Relations, pages 375-410 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Juan Miguel Gallego, 2014. "Works Councils: An Agency Perspective," REVISTA DE ECONOM√ćA DEL ROSARIO, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J58 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Public Policy
    • J68 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Public Policy

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