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Luca BITTARELLO (Northwestern University) – "Organizing Collective Action: Labor Strife in the U.S. in the 1880s" Polytechnique Recruitment
Time: 12:15 pm – 1:30 pm
Date: JANUARY 16, 2019
Place: Room 3001
Luca BITTARELLO (Northwestern University) – “Organizing Collective Action: Labor Strife in the U.S. in the 1880s”
This paper evaluates an explanation for the unionization of collective bargaining: unions help workers win strikes. I test this hypothesis with data from the U.S. in the early 1880s, when unorganized workers were still responsible for two fifths of all strike activity. Because organized workers might attempt riskier confrontations than the unorganized, I construct an instrument for union intervention in a strike from the location of the assemblies of the Knights of Labor. I estimate that unions raised strikers’ success rate by 31 percentage points from a baseline of 40 percent; moreover, they decreased the incidence of job loss by 22 percentage points from a baseline of 56 percent. Although unions increased the probability that employers acceded to strikers’ demands, I find no effect on the size of those concessions.