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An Analysis of Union Models as Illustrated by French Experience

  • Hubert Brochier
Part of the International Economic Association Series book series (IEA)

Abstract

The incorporation of the extraneous element represented by unionism into wage theory, which has remained characterized by marginal analysis, is bound to give rise to difficulties.2 To what kind of analytical treatment is union behaviour to be submitted? What assumptions should be formulated about it? To what factors is it to be linked? At the present moment, two currents of thought can be discerned in English and American literature. The first, in its attempt to preserve a certain homogeneity of wage theory, tries to use the analytical apparatus created for the firm and puts forward a purely economic explanation of union behaviour, namely one based on the maximization of a certain monetary value. The other trend of thought considers the trade union as an essentially political body and stresses the irrationality of union behaviour, which is said to derive from the mechanism of arriving at decisions within the union organization.

Keywords

Trade Union Union Member Wage Level Union Leader Union Action 
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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Notes

  1. 2.
    N. Belfer and C. F. Bloom, ‘Unionism and Marginal Theory’, Insights into Labor Issues (1948), p. 239.Google Scholar
  2. J. R. Hicks, The Theory of Wages (1933),Google Scholar
  3. J. Marchai, ‘Les Facteurs qui déterminent le taux des salaires dans le monde moderne. Du prix du travail au revenu du travailleur’, Revue économique (July 1950), pp. 129–157.Google Scholar
  4. 1.
    J. T. Dunlop, Wage Determination under Trade Unions (1944), 2nd edition (1950).Google Scholar
  5. 2.
    R. A. Lester, ‘Labor Monopoly and Business Monopoly: a Faulty Analogy’, Readings in Labor Economics and Industrial Relations (1951), p. 393.Google Scholar
  6. 3.
    A. M. Ross, ‘The Trade Union as a Wage-fixing Institution’, American Economic Review (September 1947), p. 587.Google Scholar
  7. 4.
    Ross, ‘Wage Determination under Collective Bargaining’, American Economic Review (December 1947), p. 822: ‘A sixty-day strike over two cents an hour may be irrational in the economic lexicon, but viewed as political behaviour, it may have all the logic of survival’.Google Scholar
  8. 3.
    A. M. Ross, Trade Union Wage Policy (1948).Google Scholar
  9. 1.
    According to this author union policy could be based on a comparison with wage levels in other sectors. It might also be assumed that the dissatisfaction of union members leading to strike action could be a function of the period elapsed since the last wage increase. K. E. Boulding, A Reconstruction of Economics (New York, 1950).Google Scholar
  10. 2.
    J. Lhomme, La Politique sociale de l’Angleterre contemporaine, Bibliothèque de la Science Économique (1953), pp. 119–122.Google Scholar
  11. Cf. also Y. Mainguy, ‘L’Inflation contenue en Grande-Bretagne’, Économie appliquée (April/June 1950), p. 317.Google Scholar
  12. 1.
    Cf. J. L. Guglielmi and M. Perrot, Salaires et revendications sociales en France, 1944–1952, C. E. E. Études et Mémoires (1953), p. 63 ff.Google Scholar
  13. 3.
    R. F. Hoxie, Trade Unionism in the United States (1921).Google Scholar
  14. 4.
    Cf. A. Sturmthal, ‘National Patterns of Union Behaviour’, Journal of Political Economy (December 1948), pp. 515–527,Google Scholar
  15. P. Waline, Les Syndicats aux États-Unis, Cahiers de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, No. 22 (1951). The last-named author quotes a declaration made by John Lewis in 1947, before a committee of Congress: ‘A union organization is a business organization. It is subject to competition, much like a firm. It must be conducted in the same manner’, p. 79.Google Scholar
  16. 1.
    We might also mention the lack of realism of certain other hypotheses, such as that about the membership function, of which R. Mosse rightly states ‘that it rests on no empirical datum, and is in flagrant contradiction to labour psychology’. Cf. R. Mosse, Les Salaires bilans de la connaissance économique (1952).Google Scholar
  17. 3.
    Cf. J. Piaget, Introduction à l’épistémologie génétique, vol. iii, ‘La Pensée biologique, la pensée psychologique et la pensée sociologique’ (1950), p. 210.Google Scholar
  18. 4.
    Cf. André Marchai, Méthode scientifique et science économique, le conflit traditionnel des méthodes et son renouvellement (1952).Google Scholar
  19. 2.
    Among the most recent studies on this subject we may cite J. T. Dunlop, ‘The Development of Labor Organization: a Theoretical Framework’, Insights into Labor Issues (1948), pp. 163–193,Google Scholar
  20. J. Shister, ‘The Logic of Union Growth’, Journal of Political Economy (October 1953), pp. 413–434.Google Scholar
  21. 3.
    J. Akerman proposes a somewhat similar method for business cycle analysis in his articles ‘L’Analyse structurelle des variations économiques’, Bulletin de l’Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales de l’Université de Louvain (December 1948), and ‘Cycle et structure’, Revue économique (January 1952).Google Scholar
  22. 1.
    A good example of this approach may be found in the work of J. L. Guglielmi, Naissance et formation des trade unions des mineurs en Grande-Bretagne, 1843–1919 (1952).Google Scholar
  23. 2.
    On the link between the characteristics of French capitalism and those of the trade union movement, see the astute remarks of a philosopher. J.-P. Sartre, ‘Le Communisme et la paix’, Les Temps modernes (April 1954), pp. 1776–1778 et passim.Google Scholar
  24. 3.
    An interpretation based on comparable methodological principles is to be found in Jules Vuillemin, ‘Les Syndicats ouvriers et les salaires’, Économie appliquée (1952), pp. 261–337. It is founded on inequalities in the development of capitalism and the degree of aomogeneity of the proletariat.Google Scholar
  25. 4.
    Cf. Jean Montreuil, Histoire du mouvement ouvrier en France des origines jusqu’os jours (1946), pp. 111–116.Google Scholar
  26. 2.
    Michel Collinet, Esprit du syndicalisme, Les Éditions ouvrières, (1951), chap, i: ‘Du métier à l’industrie’Google Scholar
  27. 3.
    Cf. André Marchai, Le Mouvement syndical en France (1945), pp. 76–78.Google Scholar
  28. 1.
    Union responsibility with respect to the price level is only part of the problems of what has been called ‘integrated and constructive’ trade unionism. Cf. R. Goetz-Girey, La Pensée syndicale française, militants et théoriciens (1948).Google Scholar
  29. 2.
    It can be shown, too, that union behaviour again undergoes profound changes in the course of an inflationary process. In such a case unions would seem to try to avoid having their members fall victims to inflation either by initiating a general movement of wage increases the moment a certain critical gap appears between wages and prices or by demanding a sliding wage scale. On this point see A. Page, ‘La Liaison salaire-coût de la vie’, Revue économique (January 1953), pp. 31–62, and J. Guglielmi and M. Perrot, Salaries et revendications sociales, pp. 102–112.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© International Economic Association 1957

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hubert Brochier
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GrenobleFrance

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