NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Contraction and Expansion: The Divergence of Private Sector and Public Sector Unionism in tht U.S.

Richard B. Freeman

NBER Working Paper No. 2399
Issued in October 1987

This paper contrasts the differing experience of public sector unionism, which has expanded in the United States, and private sector unionism, which has contracted, in the past several decades. It uses the experience of other countries, particularly Canada, to rule out some explanations of the divergent trends. The paper finds that the major reason for the private sector decline is increased management opposition to union organization, motivated in part by profit-seeking behavior, and augmented by trade union responses; and that the major reason for the public sector union expansion is decreased market opposition due to pas- sage of comprehensive collective bargaining laws and motivated in part by vote-seeking behavior.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w2399

Published: Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 2, No. 2, Spring 1988, pp. 63-88.

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