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Coal Mine Safety: Do Unions Make a Difference?

Alison D. Morantz

Stanford University

May 29, 2012

Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Forthcoming

Although the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) has always advocated strongly for miners’ safety, prior empirical literature contains no evidence that unionization reduced mine injuries or fatalities during the 1970s and ‘80s. This study uses a more comprehensive dataset and updated methodology to examine the relationship between unionization and underground, bituminous coal mine safety from 1993 to 2010. I find that unionization predicts a substantial and significant decline in traumatic injuries and fatalities, the two measures that I argue are the least prone to reporting bias. These disparities are especially pronounced among larger mines. My best estimates imply that overall, unionization is associated with a 13-30% drop in traumatic injuries and a 28-83% drop in fatalities. Yet unionization also predicts higher total and non-traumatic injuries, suggesting that injury reporting practices differ between union and nonunion mines.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 40

Keywords: mine, mining, safety, MSHA, union, unions, coal, UMWA, reporting bias, injuries, fatalities

JEL Classification: D61,D63,I1, I10,I12,I18,I19,J00,J18,J28,J4,J5,J50,J51,J58,K00,K31,K32,L51,L71,L7,M54,M40,K23

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Date posted: May 20, 2011 ; Last revised: December 1, 2013

Suggested Citation

Morantz, Alison D., Coal Mine Safety: Do Unions Make a Difference? (May 29, 2012). Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1846700 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1846700

Contact Information

Alison D. Morantz (Contact Author)
Stanford University ( email )
Stanford, CA 94305
United States
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