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Strikes, Scabs and Tread Separations: Labor Strife and the Production of Defective Bridgestone/Firestone Tires

68 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2003  

Alan B. Krueger

Princeton University - Industrial Relations Section; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Alexandre Mas

Department of Economics and Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Date Written: March 2003

Abstract

This paper provides a case study of the effect of labor relations on product quality. We consider whether a long, contentious strike and the hiring of permanent replacement workers by Bridgestone/Firestone in the mid-1990s contributed to the production of an excess number of defective tires. Using several independent data sources we find that labor strife in the Decatur plant closely coincided with lower product quality. Count data regression models based on two data sets of tire failures by plant, year and age show significantly higher failure rates for tires produced in Decatur during the labor dispute than before or after the dispute, or than at other plants. Also, an analysis of internal Firestone engineering tests indicates that P235 tires from Decatur performed less well if they were manufactured during the labor dispute compared with those produced after the dispute, or compared with those from other, non-striking plants. Monthly data suggest that the production of defective tires was particularly high around the time wage concessions were demanded by Firestone in early 1994 and when large numbers of replacement workers and permanent workers worked side by side in late 1995 and early 1996.

Suggested Citation

Krueger, Alan B. and Mas, Alexandre, Strikes, Scabs and Tread Separations: Labor Strife and the Production of Defective Bridgestone/Firestone Tires (March 2003). NBER Working Paper No. w9524. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=384244

Alan B. Krueger (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Industrial Relations Section ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-2098
United States
609-258-4046 (Phone)
609-258-2907 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Alexandre Mas

Department of Economics and Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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