Securing a Union Contract: Impact of the Union Organizer



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    • *Visiting Scholar, Center for Urban Affairs and Policy Research, Northwestern University. I gratefully acknowledge the support of my dissertation committee members: David Lewin, James Kuhn, Casey Ichniowski, and Seymour Spilerman of Columbia University; and Charles A. O'Reilly of the University of California at Berkeley. Thanks also to John Delaney for his many helpful insights and suggestions during the course of my research; and to Janice Bellace, Kenneth Bettenhausen, Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld, Gerald Ferris, Jennifer George, Jeffrey Keefe, and two anonymous referees for their helpful suggestions on earlier versions of this paper. These research findings were presented at the 1989 meetings of the Industrial Relations Research Association and the Southwest Division of the Academy of Management. Financial support was provided by the Industrial Relations Research Center and the Management Institute at Columbia University. This paper has been cited under its previous title, “Nice Guys Don't Always Finish Last: The Impact of the Union Organizer on the Probability of Securing a First Contract.”


Unions fail to secure a first contract after winning a representation election in approximately one out of four campaigns. This paper extends the limited research on first-contract determinants by developing and testing a model that incorporates the role of the union organizer. Although union organizers typically do not negotiate first contracts, the empirical results suggest that the organizer's personality and actions during a campaign are important determinants of first contracts.