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Vulnerable Seniors: Unions, Tenure and Wages Following Permanent Job Loss

Peter Kuhn () and Arthur Sweetman ()

Canadian International Labour Network Working Papers from McMaster University

Abstract: A well known finding in the literature on displaced workers is the apparent “portability” of tenure across firms: controlling for experience and other observable characteristics, workers with high levels of predisplacement tenure earn higher postdisplacement wages (e.g. Kletzer 1989). Using four data sets on displaced workers, we show that this finding is reversed for workers losing unionized jobs. Our finding cannot be explained by firm- or industry-specific human capital accumulation, deferred-pay policies, standard matching models, or by a correlation between tenure and re-entry rates into unionized jobs. We argue instead that it can reflect only two possible processes: negative selection of senior union workers, or a negative causal effect of unionism on workers’ alternative skills. An important implication of our findings is that, despite a much flatter predisplacement tenure-wage profile, displaced union workers’ wage losses increase with tenure at a comparable or higher rate to that of nonunion workers.

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Journal Article: Vulnerable Seniors: Unions, Tenure, and Wages Following Permanent Job Loss (1999) Downloads
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