Bankruptcy and the Cost of Organized Labor: Evidence from Union Elections

Murillo Campello, Janet Gao, Jiaping Qiu, Yue Zhang

NBER Working Paper No. 23869
Issued in September 2017
NBER Program(s):Corporate Finance, Labor Studies

Unionized workers are entitled to special treatment in bankruptcy court. This can be detrimental to other corporate stakeholders in default states, with unsecured creditors standing to lose the most. Using data on union elections covering several decades, we employ a regression discontinuity design to identify the effect of worker unionization on bondholders in bankruptcy states. Closely won union elections lead to significant bond value losses, especially when firms approach bankruptcy, have underfunded pension plans, and operate in non-RTW law states. Unionization is associated with longer, more convoluted, and costlier bankruptcy court proceedings. Unions further depress bondholders' recovery values as they are assigned seats on unsecured creditors' committees.

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Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23869

Published: Murillo Campello & Janet Gao & Jiaping Qiu & Yue Zhang, 2018. "Bankruptcy and the Cost of Organized Labor: Evidence from Union Elections," The Review of Financial Studies, vol 31(3), pages 980-1013.

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