What Do Unions Do… for Temps? Collective Bargaining and the Wage Penalty

Litwin, Adam Seth, and Shay, Or. 2021. What do unions do… for temps? Collective bargaining and the wage penalty. Industrial Relations 00: 1–35.

43 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2021

Date Written: November 23, 2021

Abstract

Does collective bargaining lift wages for contingent workers? Well-worn theory suggests that temps at a covered employer earn less than otherwise similar “perms,” but still fare better than they would in a nonunion workplace. Our analysis of a national sample of matched employee–employer data first disposes of the universality of this conventional wisdom. Then, it allows us to test an alternative, contingent theory of the mitigating impact of collective bargaining on the temp wage gap predicated on received research in labor relations and institutional labor economics. We find that just how temps fare relative to perms hinges on the labor relations orientation of the employment relationship. Whereas unions clearly deliver for temps under adversarial conditions, they do not appear to do so where they adopt a more cooperative stance toward their employer counterparts.

Keywords: collective bargaining; temporary employment; contingent workers, labor market segmentation, job quality, union strategy, labor relations orientation

Suggested Citation

Litwin, Adam Seth and Shay, Or, What Do Unions Do… for Temps? Collective Bargaining and the Wage Penalty (November 23, 2021). Litwin, Adam Seth, and Shay, Or. 2021. What do unions do… for temps? Collective bargaining and the wage penalty. Industrial Relations 00: 1–35., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3969926

Adam Seth Litwin (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

ILR School
363 Ives Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-3901
United States
(607) 255-7326 (Phone)

Or Shay

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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