union growth

Abstract

After documenting the long decline in private sector unionism over the last 50 years, we examine data on NLRB representation elections to determine if changes in the administration of the NLRA during the 1980s reduced the level
of organizing activity and success. While organizing activity sharply declined in
1981 (just before President Reagan's showdown with the air traffic controllers'
union, PATCO), we find little evidence that the changes in the administration of the NLRA later in the decade adversely affected the level of union organizing activity. We then present an accounting framework that decomposes the sharp
decline in the private-sector union membership rate into components due to 1) differential growth rates in employment between the union and nonunion sectors and 2) changes in the union new organization rate (through NLRB-supervised
representation elections). We find that most of the decline in the union membership rate is due to differential employment growth rates and that changes in union organizing activity had relatively little effect. Given that the differential employment growth rates are due largely to broader market and regulatory
forces, we conclude that the prospects are dim for a reversal of the downward
spiral of labor unions based on increased organizing activity.

Year of Publication
2000
Number
437
Date Published
04/2000
Publication Language
eng
Citation Key
8176
Western, B., & Farber, H. (2000). Round Up The Usual Suspects: The Decline of Unions in The Private Sector, 1973-1998. Retrieved from http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01pv63g025h (Original work published 04/2000AD)
Working Papers
Author
Abstract

A common defnition of a labor union is that it is an association of workers who
bargain collectively with their employer regarding the terms and conditions of
employment. Economic analysis of labor unions falls largely into four related
categories: 1) unions as maximizing agents, 2) dispute resolution: strikes and
arbitration, 3) the effect of unions on wages, and 4) the determination of union
membership. This essay is organized around discussions of these topics.

Year of Publication
2001
Number
452
Date Published
05/2001
Publication Language
eng
Citation Key
8333
Farber, H. (2001). Notes on the Economics of Labor Unions. Retrieved from http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01dn39x155s (Original work published 05/2001AD)
Working Papers