Who do Unions Target? Unionization over the Life-Cycle of U.S. Businesses

Emin Dinlersoz, Jeremy Greenwood, Henry Hyatt

NBER Working Paper No. 20151
Issued in May 2014
NBER Program(s):   EFG

What type of businesses do unions target for organizing? A dynamic model of the union organizing process is constructed to answer this question. A union monitors establishments in an industry to learn about their productivity, and decides which ones to organize and when. An establishment becomes unionized if the union targets it for organizing and wins the union certification election. The model predicts two main selection effects: unions organizing occurs in larger and more productive establishments early in their life-cycles, and among the establishments targeted for organizing, unions are more likely to win elections in smaller and less productive ones. These predictions find support in union certification election data for 1977-2007 matched with data on establishment characteristics.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20151

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