Faculty Preferences over Unionization: Evidence from Open Letters at Two Research Universities

Joel Waldfogel

NBER Working Paper No. 22149
Issued in April 2016
NBER Program(s):LE

What determines employee preferences for unionizing their workplaces? A substantial literature addresses this question with surveys on worker attitudes and pay. Unionization drives at the Universities of Minnesota and Washington have given rise to open letters of support or opposition from over 1,000 faculty at Washington and support from over 200 at Minnesota. Combining these expressions with publicly available data on salary, job titles, department affiliation, research productivity, teaching success, and political contributions from over 5,000 faculty, we provide new estimates of the determinants of faculty preferences for unionization at research universities. We find that faculty with higher pay and greater research productivity are less supportive of unionization, even after controlling for job title and department. Attitudes matter as well: after accounting for pay and productivity, faculty in fields documented elsewhere to have more politically liberal participants are more likely to support unionization.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from ($5) for electronic delivery.

Access to NBER Papers

You are eligible for a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.


Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22149

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Benmelech, Meisenzahl, and Ramcharan w22148 The Real Effects of Liquidity During the Financial Crisis: Evidence from Automobiles
Levine and Rubinstein w19276 Smart and Illicit: Who Becomes an Entrepreneur and Do They Earn More?
MacLeod w22123 Viewpoint: The Human Capital Approach to Inference
Ben-David, Birru, and Prokopenya w22146 Uninformative Feedback and Risk Taking: Evidence from Retail Forex Trading
Benmelech and Klor w22190 What Explains the Flow of Foreign Fighters to ISIS?
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us