NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Effect of Public Sector Labor laws on Collective Bargaining, Wages, and Employment

Richard B. Freeman, Robert G. Valletta

NBER Working Paper No. 2284
Issued in June 1987
NBER Program(s):   LS

This paper examines the effect of the different legal environments for bargaining faced by public employees across the states on wage and employment outcomes for union and nonunion employees, and also on the extent of bargaining, using cross-section, within-city, and longitudinal analyses based on a newly-derived data set on public sector labor laws. We find that: (1) the legal environment is a significant determinant of the probability of collective bargaining coverage; (2) collective bargaining coverage raises wages and employment for covered employees; (3) a more favorable legal environment increases wages for all employees, but substantially reduces employment for employees not covered by a contract, while slightly reducing employment for employees who are covered by a contract. We also find evidence of significant spillovers of union wage effects to non-covered departments. We conclude by focusing on the effects of two specific legal provisions - arbitration and strike permitted clauses - on wages and employment.

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Published: Freeman, R. and Valletta, R. "The Effect of Public Sector Labor Laws on Collective Bargaining, Wages, and Employment," in When Public Sector Workers Unionize, ed. by Richard Freeman and Casey Ichniowski, Chicago: UCP, 1988.

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