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Strikes and Holdouts in Wage Bargaining: Theory and Data

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Abstract

We develop a private-information model of union contract negotiations in which disputes signal a firm's willingness to pay. Previous models have assumed that all labor disputes take the form of a strike. Yet a prominent feature of U.S. collective bargaining is the holdout: negotiations often continue without a strike after the contract has expired. Production continues with workers paid according to the expired contract. We analyze the union's decision to strike or hold out and highlight its importance to strike activity. Strikes are more likely to occur after a drop in the real wage or a decline in unemployment.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:pcc:pccumd:92aer
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Rubinstein, Ariel, 1982. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 97-109, January.
    2. Peter C. Cramton, 1991. "Dynamic Bargaining with Transaction Costs," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 37(10), pages 1221-1233, October.
    3. Bruce E. Kaufman, 1981. "Bargaining Theory, Inflation, and Cyclical Strike Activity in Manufacturing," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 34(3), pages 333-355, April.
    4. Binmore, Ken & Osborne, Martin J. & Rubinstein, Ariel, 1992. "Noncooperative models of bargaining," Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications,in: R.J. Aumann & S. Hart (ed.), Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 179-225 Elsevier.
    5. Martin J. Osborne & Ariel Rubinstein, 2005. "Bargaining and Markets," Levine's Bibliography 666156000000000515, UCLA Department of Economics.
    6. Harrison, Alan & Stewart, Mark, 1989. "Cyclical Fluctuations in Strike Durations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 827-841, September.
    7. 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 257-276, April.
    8. Crawford, Vincent P, 1982. "A Theory of Disagreement in Bargaining," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 607-637, May.
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    19. Brian P. McCall, 1990. "Interest Arbitration and the Incentive to Bargain," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 34(1), pages 151-167, March.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Bargaining; Signaling; U.S. Wage Negotiations;

    JEL classification:

    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • J52 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Dispute Resolution: Strikes, Arbitration, and Mediation

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