The Eyes of the Needles: A Sequential Model of Union Organizing Drives, 1999-2004

Source: John-Paul Ferguson, Industrial & Labor Relations Review, Vol. 62, No. 1, October 2008
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This paper models three stages of the union organizing drive, using a new dataset covering more than 22,000 drives that took place between 1999 and 2004. The correlated sequential model tracks drives through all of their potential stages: holding an election, winning an election, and reaching first contracts. Only one-seventh of organizing drives that filed an election petition with the NLRB managed to reach a first contract within a year of certification. The model, which controls for the endogeneity of unfair labor practice (ULP) charges, finds that a ULP charge was associated with a 30% smaller cumulative chance of reaching such a contract. ULP charges had less effect on the votes cast than on the decision to hold an election and the ability to reach a first contract. A sequential model such as this one could be extended to test between some competing theories about the determinants of union organizing.

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