NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Employer Behavior in the Face of Union Organizing Drives

Richard B. Freeman, Morris M. Kleiner

NBER Working Paper No. 2805 (Also Reprint No. r1467)
Issued in December 1988
NBER Program(s):   LS

The direct role of employers in union organizing has long been a neglected part of the union organizing literature. In this study we examine the determinants and consequences of employer behavior when faced with an organizing drive. Our principal substantive findings are: - that there is a substitution between high wages/benefits/good work conditions/supervisory practices and "tough" management opposition to unionism. - that a high innate propensity for a union victory deters management opposition, while some indicators of a low propensity also reduce opposition. - that "positive industrial relations" raise the chances the firm will defeat the union in an election, as does bringing in consultants and having supervisors campaign intensely against the union. - that the careers of managers whose wages/supervisory practices/ benefits lead to union organizing drives, much less to union victories, suffer as a result. In general we interpret our results as consistent with the notion that firms behave in a profit maximizing manner in opposing an organizing drive and with the basic proposition that management opposition, reflected in diverse forms of behavior, is a key component in the on-going decline in private sector unionism in the United States.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w2805

Published: Industrial & Labor Relations Review, Vol. 43, No. 4, pp. 351-365, (April 1990). citation courtesy of

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