Les auteurs évaluent l'effet de deux types de lois du travail sur l'activité de grève, à savoir celles visant à réduire telle activité et d'autres qui ne cherchent pas à la reduire mais qui peuvent l'affecter indirectement par leur incidence sur les rapports de force syndical-patronal.
Strike activity has been the subject of numerous theoritical and empirical studies. Questions that economists have tried to answer go from the workers' decision to go on strike to those concerning variations of strike activity over time and across industries and countries. However, the legal framework in which collective agreements are negotiated and signed is generally considered given and constant. But labor laws change over time and new labor laws are regularly voted. Do these modifications in the legal framework have an impact on strike activity?
Gunderson et al's study is the first trying to anticipate the impact of labor laws on strike activity and to evaluate empirically the expected effects. They explain the choice to go on strike during the negotiation of a labor contract by the strike cost versus the cost of alternative processes which could generate the same information needed to reach an agreement. Since each and every means to generate a specific useful information during a contract negotiation is costly, one can assume that if the cost of alternative means is lower than the strike cost, parties will agree to use these alternative means. Thus, the adoption of labor laws giving new ways to generate the same information could have an effect on strike activity.
We had three reasons to question Gunderson et al's article. First, they have mistaken two types of labor laws: those which, without changing the relative bargaining power of the parties, try to reduce the cost of its evaluation by both parties; and those which really change the relative bargaining power. Secondly, the evaluation done by the authors of the efficiency of certain labor laws to reduce the cost to obtain information by both parties is often questionable. Finally, we think that the best model to anticipate the effect of different labor laws on strike activity is Siebert and Addison's «accident model» of strike.
In this article, using Siebert and Addison's strike model, hypotheses are proposed concerning the effects of the following five labor laws promulgated in three canadian provinces (British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec) on strike activity: compulsory conciliation, mandatory strike vote, negotiation periods, secondary strike pickets and prohibiting the use of replacement workers. Our empirical results sustain the hypothesis made on the effect of the first three types of labor laws. None of them have a significant effect on strike activity. On the other hand, we find that the secondary picketing possibility and the law prohibiting the case of replacement workers have had an important temporary positive effect on strike activity. We also had anticipated this effect with our strike model.
Download the article in PDF to read it.