46 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2001
Date Written: October 1999
Many unions in the United States have for several years engaged in what is known as pattern bargaining; a union determines a sequence for negotiations with firms within an industry where the agreement with the first firm becomes the take-it-or-leave-it offer by the union for all subsequent negotiations. In this paper, we show that pattern bargaining is preferred by a union to both simultaneous industry-wide negotiations and sequential negotiations without a pattern. Allowing for interfirm productivity differentials within an industry, we show that for small differentials, the union most prefers a pattern in wages, but for a sufficiently wide differential, the union prefers a pattern in labor costs. Finally, we demonstrate that pattern bargaining can be a significant entry deterrent. This provides an explanation for why incumbent firms in an industry may support the use of pattern bargaining in labor negotiations.
JEL Classification: J50, L13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation