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Department of Economics
ECON 2P15 – The Economics of Unions
Industrial relations involves the study of collective bargaining between firms and their employees over wages and working conditions. As such, it is an interdisciplinary subject drawing on economics, law, psychology, sociology, political science, organizational theory and other disciplines. This course is concerned with the economic aspects of industrial relations, with emphasis on Canadian industrial relations.
We consider the determinants of union coverage and membership, as well as the effect of unions on wages, employment, and a variety of other economic outcomes including strikes. Throughout the course, Canada-US and other international comparisons will be used to shed light on a number of questions and issues.
Evaluation: Evaluation will be based on one mid-term (worth 30%), one assignment (worth 20%) and a final exam (worth 50%).
Midterm date: Monday, February 26
Assignment handout date: Monday, March 19
Assignment due date: Monday, April 2
Readings: A useful source for much of the theory and some of the empirical evidence considered in this course is Benjamin, D., M. Gunderson, and C. Riddell, Labour Market Economics (any edition). Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson. This book is referred to as BGR for the remainder of the reading list and is on reserve in the library.
- Introduction to Industrial Relations in Canada
Gunderson, M. and A. Ponak (eds.). Union-Management Relations in Canada (3rd edition). Don Mills: Addison-Wesley, 1995, Chapters 2, 3 and 4.
- Union Growth and Incidence
(a) Background, Chapter 14 in BGR.
“Union Growth and Incidence”
(b) Regression Analysis Background
“Summary of Regression Analysis”, Appendix to Chapter 1 in BGR
(c) Empirical Evidence
Riddell, Craig W., “Unionization in Canada and the United States: A Tale of Two Countries”, in D. Card and R. Freeman, eds., Small Differences that Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.
- Wage and Employment Determination under Collective Bargaining
(a) Labour Demand Background
“Demand for Labour in Competitive Labour Markets”, Chapter 5 in BGR.
(b) Union Preferences Background
Pencavel, J., Labour Markets Under Trade Unionism. Blackwell, 1991, Chapter 3.
“Wage and Employment Determination Under Collective Bargaining”, Chapter 15 in BGR
(d) Empirical Evidence
- Martinello, Felice (1989), “Wage and Employment Determination in a Unionized Industry: The IWA and the British Columbia Wood Products Industry”, Journal of Labor Economics, 7(3): 303-330.
- Boal, W. and J. Pencavel (1994), “The Effects of Labor Unions on Employment, Wages, and Days of Operation: Coal Mining in West Virginia”, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 109: 267-298.
- Union Impact on Wages
- “Union Impact on Wage and Nonwage Outcomes”, Chapter 16 in BGR, pp. 544-566.
- Freeman, R.R. (1982), “Union Wage Practices and Wage Dispersion within Establishments”, Industrial and Labor Relations Review 36:3-21.
- Lemieux, T., “Unions and Wage Inequality in Canada and the United States”, in D. Card and R.B. Freeman, eds., Small Differences that Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.
- Collective Bargaining Disputes
Gunderson, M. and A. Ponak (eds.), Union-Management Relations in Canada (3rd edition). Don Mills: Addison-Wesley, 1995, Chapter 14.
(b) Legislative Impact
Gunderson, Morley, John Kervin and Frank Reid (1989), “The Effect of Labour Relations Legislation on Strike Incidence”, Canadian Journal of Economics, 22(4): 779-794.
(c) Alternatives to Strikes
Currie, Janet and Sheena McConnell (1991), “Collective Bargaining in the Public Sector: The Effect of Legal Structure on Dispute Costs and Wages”, American Economic Review, 81: 693-718. (See also comment and reply, AER, March 1996.)
- Union Impact on Non-Wage Outcomes
“Union Impact on Wage and Nonwage Outcomes”, Chapter 16 in BGR, pp. 566-82.
Freeman, R.B. and J. Medoff, “The Two Faces of Unionism”, The Public Interest, Fall 1979, pp. 69-93.
Academic Integrity Statement for Undergraduate Courses
Academic misconduct is a serious offence. The principle of academic integrity, particularly of doing one’s own work, documenting properly (including use of quotation marks, appropriate paraphrasing and referencing/citation), collaborating appropriately, and avoiding misrepresentation, is a core principle in university study. Students should consult Section VII, “Academic Misconduct”, in the “Academic Regulations and University Polices” entry in the Undergraduate Calendar, available at http://brocku.ca/webcal to view a fuller description of prohibited actions, and the procedures and penalties.
This course may use Turnitin.com, phrase-matching software. If you object to uploading your assignments to Turnitin.com for any reason, please notify the instructor to discuss alternative submissions.
Intellectual Property Notice
All slides, presentations, handouts, tests, exams, and other course materials created by the instructor in this course are the intellectual property of the instructor. A student who publicly posts or sells an instructor’s work, without the instructor’s express consent, may be charged with misconduct under Brock’s Academic Integrity Policy and/or Code of Conduct, and may also face adverse legal consequences for infringement of intellectual property rights.
As part of Brock University’s commitment to a respectful work and learning environment, the University will make every reasonable effort to accommodate all members of the university community with disabilities. If you require academic accommodations related to a documented disability to participate in this course, you are encouraged to contact Services for Students with Disabilities in the Student Development Centre (4th floor Schmon Tower, ex. 3240). You are also encouraged to discuss any accommodations with the instructor well in advance of due dates and scheduled assessments.
Academic Accommodation due to Religious Obligations
Brock University acknowledges the pluralistic nature of the undergraduate and graduate communities such that accommodations will be made for students who, by reason of religious obligation, must miss an examination, test, assignment deadline, laboratory or other compulsory academic event. Students requesting academic accommodation on the basis of religious obligation should make a formal, written request to their instructor(s) for alternative dates and/or means of satisfying requirements.
Medical Exemption Policy
The University requires that a student be medically examined in Health Services, or by an off-campus physician prior to an absence due to medical reasons from an exam, lab, test, quiz, seminar, assignment, etc. The Medical Certificate can be found at: http://www.brocku.ca/health-services/policies/exemption.