Academics from University College London and the University of Westminster find that union bargaining coverage has significant positive associations with job satisfaction regarding pay and hours.
According to the study, which publishes in Oxford Economic Papers, employees' satisfaction with their pay and hours of work rises when they are set via collective bargaining between an employer and a trade union. They find this to be true whether the individual employee is a member of the trade union or not.
This study differs from others because it identifies the effects of union bargaining coverage on job satisfaction by distinguishing between three different ways in which employees start to have their pay and conditions set by collective bargaining, namely those who switch union status within their current job, those who switch whilst with the same employer but across jobs, and those who move employers. Co-author of the paper, Professor Alex Bryson, explains:
"These results are consistent with union bargaining effects which result in higher pay and hours schedules that better suit employees' preferences, relative to what they might have received in the non-union sector. Unions bargain on behalf of all employees at a unionised workplace which is why the positive benefits of coverage are not confined to union members."
Professor Bryson and co-author Dr. Michael White consider five measures of job satisfaction in their review, namely overall job satisfaction, job security, the work itself, hours, and pay. The study employs a fixed effects model which eliminates fixed unobserved differences across union covered and uncovered employees, such as personality variables, which the authors suspect explain negative associations between unionization and job satisfaction in previous studies: "Employees with a greater tendency to be dissatisfied are more likely to become unionized in the first place. This study takes account of this, revealing positive effects of unionisation on some aspects of employee job satisfaction" says Professor Bryson.
The size of the union effect on pay satisfaction is quite substantial: it is almost the same as the effect of an employee receiving incentive payments.
Although under their fixed effects model, the effects of union coverage are positive relating to pay and hours, union coverage continues to be associated with lower job security.
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