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The Impact of Union Experience on Job Satisfaction



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       The author’s affiliation is Department of Economics, American University of Sharjah. E-mail: The author would like to thank John Heywood, Susan Davies, Keith Bender, Scott Drewianka, Scott Adams, and all of the participants of the Labor Economics Seminar Series at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee for insightful comments and suggestions.


The relationship between union status and job satisfaction is commonly estimated without recognizing the heterogeneity of non-union members. Many non-union workers have experienced union jobs in the past while others have not, suggesting past estimations of the impact of unions on job satisfaction may miss a critical distinction. After separating non-union members into those workers with and without union experience, this article shows that job satisfaction increases significantly for first-time union workers, but decreases as workers accumulate experience in the union. Finally, after leaving the union jobs, worker job satisfaction recovers but does so only as the time since unionization grows.

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