Bargaining Power, Strike Duration, and Wage Outcomes: an Analysis of Strikes in the 1880s

68 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2006 Last revised: 22 Aug 2021

See all articles by David Card

David Card

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Craig A. Olson

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - School of Labor & Employment Relations

Date Written: May 1992

Abstract

We study strike durations and outcomes for some 2000 disputes that occurred between 1881 and 1886. Most post-strike bargaining settlements in the 1880s fell into one of two categories: either a union "victory", characterized by a significant wage gain or hours cut, or a union "defeat", characterized by the resumption of work at the previous terms of employment. We find a strong negative relation between strike duration and the value of the settlement to workers. reflecting the declining probability of a union victory among longer strikes. For the subset of strikes over wage increases we estimate a structural model that includes equations for the capitulation times of the two parties and a specification of the wage increase conditional on a union victory. This framework provides a simple index of employees' relative bargaining power. based on the relative time to a union capitulation. Employees' relative bargaining power was higher in disputes involving fewer workers and in union ordered strikes. but substantially lower after the Haymarket Square incident in Chicago in 1886.

Suggested Citation

Card, David E. and Olson, Craig A., Bargaining Power, Strike Duration, and Wage Outcomes: an Analysis of Strikes in the 1880s (May 1992). NBER Working Paper No. w4075, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=476180

David E. Card (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

Room 3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States
510-642-5222 (Phone)
510-643-7042 (Fax)

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

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

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Craig A. Olson

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - School of Labor & Employment Relations ( email )

504 East Armory Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820-6297
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
31
Abstract Views
647
PlumX Metrics