Do Labor Laws Matter? The Density Decline and Convergence Thesis Revisited

Do Labor Laws Matter? The Density Decline and Convergence Thesis Revisited Under the density decline and convergence thesis, market forces are gradually eroding union density levels, leading to convergence with the U.S. level throughout the developed world. A key implication is that the U.S. decline has been unavoidable and that little, including labor law reforms, can be done to reverse it. Canada appears to refute this thesis, for it has stronger laws, and density is double that of the United States. Yet (1) Canada's higher public‐sector density may mask private‐sector declines, (2) any private‐sector differences simply may reflect a tendency for Canada to lag the United States, and (3) labor law may not explain U.S.–Canada differences. This article explores these possibilities, finding little support for them. It concludes that a strong case can be made for Canadian‐style labor law reforms but that such reforms may not be sufficient by themselves to revitalize the U.S. labor movement. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Industrial Relations Wiley

Do Labor Laws Matter? The Density Decline and Convergence Thesis Revisited

Industrial Relations, Volume 42 (3) – Jul 1, 2003

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 2003 Wiley Subscription Services, Inc., A Wiley Company
ISSN
0019-8676
eISSN
1468-232X
DOI
10.1111/1468-232X.00300
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Under the density decline and convergence thesis, market forces are gradually eroding union density levels, leading to convergence with the U.S. level throughout the developed world. A key implication is that the U.S. decline has been unavoidable and that little, including labor law reforms, can be done to reverse it. Canada appears to refute this thesis, for it has stronger laws, and density is double that of the United States. Yet (1) Canada's higher public‐sector density may mask private‐sector declines, (2) any private‐sector differences simply may reflect a tendency for Canada to lag the United States, and (3) labor law may not explain U.S.–Canada differences. This article explores these possibilities, finding little support for them. It concludes that a strong case can be made for Canadian‐style labor law reforms but that such reforms may not be sufficient by themselves to revitalize the U.S. labor movement.

Journal

Industrial RelationsWiley

Published: Jul 1, 2003

References

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