Unionization Matters: An Analysis of PostWorld War II Strikes
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Recent macroeconomic analyses of post-World War II US strikes conclude that union density during a given year does not affect the occurrence of strike activity during that same year, a finding attributed to the institutionalization of collective bargaining after WWII. However, this argument does not take into account two processes that may render new bargaining units more radical than established bargaining units and, hence, more likely to use strikes as a weapon against capitalists. Because macrolevel changes in union density are reflective of the organization or lack of organization of new bargaining units (Freeman and Medoff 1984), the effect of union density on strikes should still be present. However, given the average contract length of two years during this time period (Cecchetti 1987; Vroman 1989), this effect should be delayed by about two years by the presence of total no-strike pledges in most contracts (Perusek and Worcester 1995). An ARIMA time-series analysis confirms that union density has a two-year lagged effect on strike activity in the post-WWII time period, 1947-1977.
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