Given an oligopolistic product market, trade unions organized at firm level want to coordinate their bargaining activities. If for some exogenous reasons centralization is not possible, unions could try to coordinate wage setting by wage leadership. The outcome of such wage leadership is compared with that of an uncoordinated bargaining and is characterized by higher utilities for all unions. But wages and employment levels are not symmetrical either for unions or for firms. The leader firm employment decreases and the follower firm employment rises compared with uncoordinated bargaining. This may cause problems with the implementation of wage leadership. Copyright Fondazione Giacomo Brodolini and Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2000.