Union Representation Elections and the Role of the National Labor Relations Board (ICPSR 7625)

Published: Feb 16, 1992

Principal Investigator(s):
Jeanne Herman Brett, Northwestern University; Julius G. Getman, Northwestern University; Stephen B. Goldberg, Northwestern University


Version V1

This data collection contains survey results based on personal interviews conducted with 1,239 workers who participated in union representation elections in the United States in 1972-1973. The purpose of the study was to test the validity of the assumptions made by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that employees are likely to attend to and be significantly influenced by the pre-election campaign in deciding whether or not to vote for union representation. These assumptions were the basis of many NLRB rules and regulations surrounding such elections. This study attempted to measure the actual effect of the pre-election campaign, particularly unlawful campaigning, on the employees' predisposition to vote for or against union representation. To that end, employees were interviewed in two waves, first to determine how employees intended to vote before the campaign began and then to measure how they ultimately voted. In Wave 1, workers were questioned about their pre-campaign sentiments about union representation. Employees were asked how they felt about their working conditions and about unions in general. They also were asked whether or not they had signed a union authorization card and how they would vote if the election were to be held the next day. In Wave 2, employees were asked to recall the content of the campaign and to disclose how they had voted and why, including any observations of pressures exerted by companies/employers or unions before and after the representation elections. Data collected about the respondents' demographic characteristics and job experience include age, sex, race, education level, political preferences, marital status, tenure, hours working (per week), wage rate (per hour), if previous union member, if voted in previous NLRB election, and if spouse, father, or mother were union members. The study and its objectives are laid out in Getman, Julius G., Stephen B. Goldberg, and Jeanne B. Herman. UNION REPRESENTATION ELECTIONS: LAW AND REALITY. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1976.

Brett, Jeanne Herman, Getman, Julius G., and Goldberg, Stephen B. Union Representation Elections and the Role of the National Labor Relations Board. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1992-02-16. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR07625.v1

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National Science Foundation (NSF: GS-3030)

Russell Sage Foundation

University of Illinois

Indiana University

1972-02 -- 1973-09

1972-02 -- 1973-09

Missing data have been coded uniformly as zeroes throughout the file.

A two-wave panel design was used in order to interview the same employees at different stages of the election campaigns. For Wave 1, employees were interviewed as soon as possible after the direction of election, and for Wave 2, employees were interviewed immediately after the election. Of the 31 elections studied, the unions won eight and lost 23. Of the approximately 1,300 employees who were contacted, 1,239 completed two full interviews.

Employees participating in union representation elections in the United States in 1972 and 1973.

personal and telephone interviews

survey data



1984-05-03 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions.

  • The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented.
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