The article analyzes the effect unions might have on the duration of the recovery period after workplace injuries, the so-called non-work spells of claimants in the workers' compensation insurance system. A union may affect the duration of non-work spells in two ways. First, a union may alter the true level of workplace safety in terms of the severity of work-related injuries and the time it takes to recover from injuries; this is the 'true safety' effect. Second, a union may influence workers' ability and incentives to stay longer away from work after injuries, that is, have longer non-work spells; this is the 'rights-facilitating' effect. The authors analyze 9818 workers' compensation claims filed with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry for injuries that occurred in 1993 and 1994 in 873 sample firms included in the Minnesota Human Resource Management Practice Survey. Maximum likelihood estimation of the duration of non-work spells (using the Weibull distribution) suggests that, controlling for various factors, being a union member is associated with a 19 percent increase in the duration of non-work spells. This means that on average in our sample, workers in unionized firms stay away from work after an injury approximately 10 days more than workers in non-unionized firms.
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- Industrial accidents
- Moral hazard
- Occupational safety
- Workers' compensation insurance system