Unions & Collective Bargaining


Although representing a minority of U.S. workers, unions still have a significant effect on the nation’s workforce and economy. Unions, through collective bargaining arrangements, determine compensation and influence employment levels and workplace rules and conditions. Because of their presence in key sectors, such as construction, public schools, and transportation, unions can have broad-reaching effects on nonunionized firms and other sectors of the economy.


  • Do unionized workers receive a compensation premium?
  • Does unionization affect employment levels?
  • Does unionization affect labor productivity?
  • Do unions and collective bargaining result in “fairer” treatment of workers?
  • What effect do unions have on nonunion workers and firms?
  • What economic or political factors influence the level of union membership?

Selected Institute Research

Justice on the Job: Perspectives on the Erosion of Collective Bargaining in the United States
Richard Block, Michigan State University, editor
Sheldon Friedman, AFL-CIO, editor
Michelle Kaminski, Michigan State University, editor
Andy Levin, AFL-CIO, editor
Upjohn Institute Press, 2006

Teachers Unions and Student Performance: Help or Hindrance?
Randall Eberts, Upjohn Institute
In Excellence in the Classroom, The Future of Children, 17(1): 175-200, Spring 2007
Princeton University and Brookings Institution

Workplace Justice Without Unions
Hoyt Wheeler, University of South Carolina
Brian Klaas, University of South Carolina
Douglas Mahony, University of South Carolina
Upjohn Institute Press, 2004

Bargaining for Competitiveness: Law, Research, Case Studies
Richard Block, Michigan State University, editor
Upjohn Institute Press, 2003

More Institute Research about Unions & Collective Bargaining

Useful Links

Labor and Employment Relations Association LERA