Fear and Loathing (And Bribery) in the Workplace: Worker Perceptions of Employer Responses to Union Organizing

Jack Fiorito
Dennis P. Bozeman

DOI: 10.2190/74DP-7ETH-LJEX-RYGX


This exploratory article examines the antecedents of worker perceptions of employer responses to union organizing drives. Although previous research has cited employer opposition as a critical factor in the union organizing process, almost no research has focused on worker perceptions of employer opposition. No previous research has attempted to model such worker perceptions. In developing and testing such a model, this article helps call attention to the distinction between nominal and effective rights, effective rights as seen by those on whom the law confers rights in principle. Using data from the Union Image Survey, this article presents evidence on worker perceptions and tests preliminary hypotheses on their causes. Consistent with expectations, results indicate that private sector workers, those most dissatisfied with their jobs, those perceiving that a union could improve employment terms, and those having an unfavorable image of their employer are most likely to anticipate employer coercion in response to a union organizing drive. Contrary to expectations, prior experience in union representation elections was not found to predict worker perceptions of employer responses. Public policy implications and future research needs are discussed in a concluding section.

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