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Journal of Labor Research

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 393–413 | Cite as

Two faces of union voice in the public sector

  • Morley Gunderson
Symposium Part V-What do unions do?: A twenty-year perspective

Summary and Concluding Observations

Employee voice through unions is manifest in various ways in the public sector including unionization itself, strikes, political activity, and challenging managerial prerogatives. In each of these areas there are two faces to voice just as there are two faces to unions. Voice can be used in a more influence-peddling and muscle-flexing bargaining fashion to enhance rent seeking and noncooperative behavior with negative effects on productivity, competitiveness, and resource allocation. Voice can also be used more positively by articulating preferences and trade-offs, improving communications, and involving employees and enhancing their commitment to the organization. In all likelihood both faces of voice apply to unions in the public sector just as they do in the private sector. In the private sector, however, the negative monopoly face of unions has been increasingly constrained by competitive market forces such as globalization and trade liberalization as well as by the industrial restructuring to services and the information economy. Rents are obviously harder to obtain when there are fewer rents on the bargaining table. There is little survival value to pricing yourself out of the market now that market forces are more prominent. In such a private sector environment, unions have generally declined, strikes have dissipated, and managerial prerogatives have been enhanced.

Keywords

Private Sector Public Sector Collective Bargaining Wage Premium Labor Relation Review 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Morley Gunderson
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TorontoCanada

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