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Electoral Democracy at Work

Abstract : We evaluate the short- to medium-run effects on unionization and employers' and workers' trust in unions, of an important reform of French employment relations in 2008. This reform made the conditions for union recognition more liberal and democratic after 2008 in private firms with 11 employees or more. The law gave equal chances to all unions to be recognized for bargaining, putting an end to the quasi-monopoly given to five historical unions until then. The law also introduced votes and minimal electoral requirements to obtain union recognition. These new regulations only became fully effective at the first firms' work councils elections happening after January 1st, 2009. Those elections occur within each firm according to a pre-defined frequency - usually every four years -, so that election dates only depend on former election dates, and can be considered as quasi-random with respect to the application date of the new law, at least in firms that are old enough. The identification thus relies on a regression discontinuity design in which the running variable is the firms' work councils election date: we compare in early 2011 firms that had those elections just before or just after January 1st, 2009. We find that the democratic rules introduced in 2008 quickly improved employers' satisfaction and trust towards unions by around 45% of a standard deviation. Union coverage and membership at the establishment level also increased strongly due to the reform and work stoppages became more likely. Together, these results suggest that the introduction of electoral democracy in French firms managed to improve workers' participation in unions and their ability to voice concerns while also improving employers' opinions of unions.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02191304
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Submitted on : Tuesday, July 23, 2019 - 2:03:02 PM
Last modification on : Monday, January 4, 2021 - 3:32:09 PM

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Philippe Askenazy, Thomas Breda. Electoral Democracy at Work. 2019. ⟨halshs-02191304⟩

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