January 2016; Vol. 69, No. 1
Table of Contents
Harmonious Unions and Rebellious Workers: A Study of Wildcat Strikes in Vietnam
Mark Anner and Xiangmin Liu
The authors examine enterprise-level antecedents of wildcat strikes in Vietnam using a national representative sample of foreign-invested enterprises over the period 2010 to 2012, coding of factory audits, and field research. They predict that these unauthorized, semi-spontaneous work stoppages are more common among unionized workplaces, because the presence of a union in the workplace signals to workers that by engaging in a wildcat strike, they may be able to activate the representation and protection role of official trade unions. That is, workers can in some cases push unions from below to act on their behalf. In addition, wholly foreign-owned enterprises, investments by Asian-owned firms, and manufacturing operations in industrial zones are associated with more strikes than are joint ventures with state-owned and private enterprises, firms owned by Western investors, and firms in higher-value-added activities. Statistical results and field research provide strong support for these predictions. These findings suggest that the role of trade unions in socialist states may be more nuanced than previously assumed. At the same time, they reinforce the observation in the literature that Vietnamese employment relations institutions are unable, in and of themselves, to address worker grievances.
Management Whipsawing: The Staging of Labor Competition Under Globalization
Ian Greer and Marco Hauptmeier
The authors examine management whipsawing practices in the European auto industry based on more than 200 interviews and a comparison of three automakers. They identify four distinct ways in which managers stage competition between plants to extract labor concessions: informal, hegemonic, coercive, and rule-based whipsawing. Practices at the three auto firms differed from one another and changed over time because of two factors: structural whipsawing capacity and management labor relations strategy. In the context of economic globalization, whipsawing is an effective means for managers to extract concessions, to loosen national institutional constraints, and to diffuse employment practices internationally.
Racial Diversity and Union Organizing in the United States, 1999–2008
Does racial diversity make forming a union harder? Case studies offer conflicting answers, and little large-scale research on the question exists. Most quantitative research on race and unionization has studied trends in membership rather than the outcome of specific organizing drives and has assumed that the main problem is mistrust between workers and unions, paying less attention, for example, to the role of employers. The author explores the role of racial and ethnic diversity in the outcomes of nearly 7,000 organizing drives launched between 1999 and 2008. By matching the National Labor Relations Board’s information on union activity with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s surveys of large establishments, the author reconstructs the demographic composition of the work groups involved in each mobilization. The study finds that more diverse establishments are less likely to see successful organizing attempts. Little evidence is found, however, that this is because workers are less interested in voting for unions. Instead, the organizers of more diverse units are more likely to give up before such elections are held. Furthermore, this higher quit rate can be explained best by considering the other organizations involved in the organizing drive. In particular, employers are more likely to be charged with unfair labor practices when the unit in question is more racially diverse. This effect persists when the study controls for heterogeneity among industries, unions, and regions.
Widespread public-sector unionism emerged only in the 1960s, as individual states opened the door to collective bargaining for state and municipal workers. In this study, the author exploits differences in timing of legislative reforms across states to construct estimates of the causal effects of public-sector collective bargaining rights on pay, benefits, and employment for teachers, firefighters, and police. Perhaps surprisingly, estimates that allow for state fixed effects and state-specific trends show little effect on teachers’ pay, benefits, or employment, despite significantly increasing union presence among teachers. For firefighters, the results show a substantial positive effect on wages. For police, the wage effect was more modest but the workweek was significantly shortened.
Unions influence the U.S. political process in numerous ways. Although scholarship has examined labor’s effects on political office-holding, less research is available on the relationship between unions and legislator policy choice. In this article, I use theories of social identification, civic engagement, and intergenerational transfer of political values to explore the relationship between various definitions of a legislator’s prior union experience and his or her roll-call voting once in office. I employ multilevel mixed-effects regressions to analyze 2,427 federal and statewide worker-related votes cast by California’s legislators from 1999 to 2012. Results indicate that higher probabilities of having worked in a unionized occupation or having a family member who belonged to a union are positively associated with voting for union-supported issues. The relationship is not cumulative, however, and is moderated by factors both endogenous and exogenous to the legislator.
Wage Effects of Unionization and Occupational Licensing Coverage in the United States
Maury Gittleman and Morris M. Kleiner
Recent estimates in standard models of wage determination for both unionization and occupational licensing have shown wage effects that are similar across the two institutions. These cross-sectional estimates use specialized data sets, with small sample sizes, for the period 2006 to 2008. The authors’ analysis examines the impact of unions and licensing coverage on wage determination using new data collected on licensing statutes that are then linked to longitudinal data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79) from 1979 to 2010. They develop several approaches, using both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses, to measure the impact of these two labor market institutions on wage determination. The estimates of the economic returns to union coverage are greater than those for licensing statutes.
The large excess fraction of difficult-to-diagnose injuries that occur on a Monday was originally thought to reflect employees’ use of workers’ compensation to cover weekend injuries. Evidence has not necessarily supported this notion, however. Substantial reforms in California in 2004 have made filing false workers’ compensation claims more difficult and less attractive because of reduced benefits. The author empirically tests the effects of the reforms using 2002 to 2006 workers’ compensation claims from a nationwide firm that contracts temporary staffing, an industry with pronounced asymmetric information. He finds strong evidence that claim rates and costs fell following the reforms, and that the fraction of claims on Monday for difficult-to-diagnose injuries dropped by 7 percentage points in California—with no change for the firm’s branches in other states. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that false claims explain a part of the Monday effect, at least in industries with substantial asymmetric information. That being said, when taking into account the effects of the reforms on claim costs and overall claim rates, the excess number of Monday claims makes up less than 4% of the cost reductions after the reforms.
Why do Women Leave Science and Engineering?
The author uses the 2003 and 2010 National Survey of College Graduates to examine the higher exit rate of women compared to men from science and engineering relative to other fields. The author finds that the higher relative exit rate is driven by engineering rather than science, and that half the gap can be explained by the relatively greater exit rate from engineering of women dissatisfied with pay and promotion opportunities. Family-related constraints and dissatisfaction with working conditions are found to be only secondary factors. The relative exit rate by gender from engineering does not differ from that of other fields once women’s relatively high exit rates from male fields generally are taken into account.
Employer Attitudes, the Marginal Employer, and the Ethnic Wage Gap
Magnus Carlsson and Dan-Olof Rooth
In most EU countries, ethnic minorities have lower wages than does the ethnic majority. To what extent these wage gaps are the result of prejudice toward ethnic minority workers is virtually unknown. The authors examine the role that prejudice plays in the creation of the ethnic wage gap in one of Europe’s most egalitarian countries, Sweden. The analysis takes into account the important distinction between average employer attitudes and the attitude of the marginal employer (the attitude of the most prejudiced employer hiring the ethnic minority). Results confirm that the attitudes of the marginal employer—but not those of the average employer—are important for explaining the ethnic wage gap.
Discriminatory Social Attitudes and Varying Gender Pay Gaps within Firms
Simon Janssen, Simone Tuor Sartore, and Uschi Backes-Gellner
This study analyzes the relationship between discriminatory social attitudes toward gender equality and firms’ pay-setting behavior by combining information about regional votes on constitutional amendments on equal rights for women and men with a large data set of multi-establishment firms and workers. The results show a strong relationship between discriminatory social attitudes toward gender equality and gender pay gaps within firms across regions. The results remain robust, even when the authors account for detailed worker and job characteristics and for regional sorting of firms. Overall, the results suggest that gender pay gaps are larger in regions where more people oppose gender equality rights. In other words, in the same firm women earn lower wages than their male coworkers in regions where more people have discriminatory social attitudes toward gender equality.
Book Review: Private Equity at Work: When Wall Street Manages Main Street
Christian E. Weller
Book Review: Governing Social Risks in Post-Crisis Europe
Book Review: Chinese Workers in Comparative Perspective
Frederic C. Deyo