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Emerging Labor Market Institutions for the Twenty-First Century

Private sector unionism is in decline in the United States. As a result, labor advocates, community groups, nongovernmental organizations, and individuals concerned with the well-being of workers have sought to develop alternative ways to represent workers’ interests. Emerging Labor Market Institutions for the Twenty-First Century provides the first in-depth assessment of how effectively labor market institutions are responding to this drastically altered landscape.

This important volume provides case studies of new labor market institutions and new directions for existing institutions. The contributors examine the behavior and impact of new organizations that have formed to solve workplace problems and to bolster the position of workers. They also document how unions employ new strategies to maintain their role in the economic system. While non-union institutions are unlikely to fill the gap left by the decline of unions, the findings suggest that emerging groups and unions might together improve some dimensions of worker well-being. Emerging Labor Market Institutions is the story of workers and institutions in flux, searching for ways to represent labor in the new century.


"The question of the ability of unions to survive in their current form and pursue their current objectives is an important one. This terrific collection . . . addresses a range of issues clearly and without overt partisanship, yet also represents the viewpoint of workers. . . . Highly recommended."


"The editors of this excellent volume select a varied mix of institutions and topics through which contributing authors attempt to discern the future. . . . At a minimum, readers of this volume will come away with a deeper understanding of how current institutions . . . operate in today’s labor market. I suspect that the volume accomplishes more, however, identifying some of the more important sources from which future labor market institutions will emerge."

Barry Hirsch | Industrial and Labor Relations Review

Table of Contents

Richard B. Freeman and Joni Hersch
1. Individual Rights and Collective Agents: The Role of Old and New Workplace Institutions in the Regulation of Labor Markets
David Weil

I. Studies of Nonworker Organizations
2. White Hats or Don Quixotes? Human Rights Vigilantes in the Global Economy
Kimberly Ann Elliott and Richard B. Freeman

3. The Living Wage Movement: What Is It, Why Is It, and What’s Known about Its Impact?
Jared Bernstein

4. The Role and Functioning of Public-Interest Legal Organizations in the Enforcement of the Employment Laws
Christine Jolls

II. Studies of Membership-Based Initiatives
5. Unionization of Professional and Technical Workers: The Labor Market and Institutional Transformation
Richard W. Hurd and John Bunge

6. A Workers’ Lobby to Provide Portable Benefits
Joni Hersch

III. New Union Opportunities and Initiatives
7. A Submerging Labor Market Institution? Unions and the Nonwage Aspects of Work
Thomas C. Buchmueller, John E. DiNardo and Robert G. Valletta
8. Union Participation in Strategic Decisions of Corporations
Eileen Appelbaum and Larry W. Hunter

9. Development Intermediaries and the Training of Low-Wage Workers
Lisa M. Lynch

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