Unions, Bargaining and Strikes

Peter Cramton and Joseph S. Tracy , International Handbook of Trade Unions , October 2003.

Labor disputes are an intriguing feature of the landscape of industrialized economies. Economists have had a long-standing interest in formulating a framework for understanding and analyzing labor disputes. The development of noncooperative bargaining theory provided the tools for a theory of collective bargaining and labor disputes. A general aim of this theoretical development is to inform policy makers of the efficiency and equity effects associated with different labor laws and institutions that govern and shape the collective bargaining process. While this new literature is still evolving, it can already offer many insights into the interplay between policy and the bargaining process. In this chapter, we will provide a sketch of this new collective bargaining theory and illustrate its ability to aid in policy analysis. We will also relate the predictions of the model to existing empirical findings in the literature.

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