NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

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.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22149

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