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When Public Sector Workers Unionize

In the 1980s, public sector unionism has become the most vibrant component of the American labor movement. What does this new "look" of organized labor mean for the economy? Do labor-management relations in the public sector mirror patterns in the private, or do they introduce a novel paradigm onto the labor scene? What can the private sector learn from the success of collective bargaining in the public?

Contributors to When Public Sector Workers Unionize—which was developed from the NBER’s program on labor studies—examine these and other questions using newly collected data on public sector labor laws, labor relations practices of state and local governments, and labor market outcomes. Topics considered include the role, effect, and evolution of public sector labor law and the effects that public sector bargaining has on both wage and nonwage issues.

Several themes emerge from the studies in this volume. Most important, public sector labor law has a strong and pervasive effect on bargaining and on wage and employment outcomes in public sector labor markets. Also, public sector unionism affects the economy in ways that are different from, and in many cases opposite to, the ways private sector unionism does, appearing to stimulate rather than reduce employment, reducing rather than increasing layoff rates, and developing innovate ways to settle labor disputes such as compulsory interest arbitration instead of strikes and lockouts found in the private sector.

435 pages | 6 line drawings, 88 tables | 6 x 9 | © 1988

National Bureau of Economic Research Project Report

Economics and Business: Business--Industry and Labor, Economics--Government Finance

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Public Sector Look of American Unionism
Richard B. Freeman and Casey Ichniowski
I. The Role of Public Sector Labor Law
1. Public Sector Union Growth and Bargaining Laws: A Proportional Hazards Approach with Time-Varying Treatments
Casey Ichniowski
Comment: John M. Abowd
2. Public Sector Bargaining Laws Really Matter: Evidence from Ohio and Illinois
Gregory M. Saltzman
Comment: William T. Dickens
3. The Effects of Public Sector Labor Laws on Labor Market Institutions and Outcomes
Richard B. Freeman and Robert G. Valletta
Comment: Harvey S. Rosen
4. Arbitrator Behavior in Public Sector Wage Disputes
David E. Bloom
Comment: Morris A. Horowitz
5. The Evolution of Public Sector Bargaining Laws
Henry S. Farber
II. The Effects of Public Sector Bargaining on Wages
6. Union/Nonunion Wage Gaps in the Public Sector
H. Gregg Lewis
Comment: Zvi Griliches
7. Employer Size, Pay, and the Ability to Pay in the Public Sector
Charles C. Brown and James L. Medoff
Comment: Daniel S. Hamermesh
8. Are Public Sector Workers Paid More than their Alternative Wage? Evidence from Longitudinal Data and Job Queues
Alan B. Krueger
Comment: Lisa M. Lynch
III. Effects on Nonwage Outcomes
9. On Estimating the Effects of Increased Aid to Education
Ronald G. Ehrenberg and Richard P. Chaykowski
Comment: Richard J. Murnane
10. Unions and Job Security in the Public Sector
Steven G. Allen
Comment: Joseph G. Altonji
11. Unionism and Licensing of Public School Teachers: Impact on Wages and Educational Output
Morris M. Kleiner and Daniel J. Petree
Comment: Randall W. Eberts and Joe A. Stone
12. The Effects of Public Sector Unionism on Pay, Employment, Department Budgets, and Municipal Expenditures
Jeffrey Zax and Casey Ichniowski
Comment: Harry J. Holzer
Appendix A. Collective Organization of Labor in the Public Sector
Richard B. Freeman, Casey Ichniowski, and Jeffrey Zax
Appendix B. The NBER Public Sector Collective Bargaining Law Data Set
Robert G. Valletta and Richard B. Freeman
List of Contributors
Author Index
Subject Index

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