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September 1989, Vol. 112, No. 9
Collective bargaining and private sector professionals
Sar A. Levitan and Frank Gallo
The fact that unionization rates are now higher among professionals than nonprofessionals-26.8 percent versus 17.8 percent in 19881-has led to predictions that professionals are ripe targets for unionization. However, the increase in collective bargaining by professionals is almost entirely caused by the rise in government organization. More than 1 of 3 professionals is employed by the government and 4 of 5 professionals represented in collective bargaining work in the public sector. But the influence of government unionization among professionals is waning because public sector unionization rates have declined in recent years, and the government work force is growing much more slowly than employment in private industry.
Only 1 in 10 private sector professionals bargains collectively, a proportion which has remained basically unchanged in more than two decades and is unlikely to change significantly in the foreseeable future. Associations representing physicians, lawyers, engineers, scientists, and other professionals historically have perceived little conflict of interest between management and labor, often because their members are in both camps. Hence, major private sector professional associations have shown little interest in collective bargaining.
This excerpt is from an article published in the September 1989 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 Sar Levitan and Frank Gallo, "Government Employee Associations: can they negotiate new growth?" Monthly Labor Review, July 1989, pp. 5-14.
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