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In the United States, most unions are recognized by a majority vote of employees through union representation elections administered by the government. Most empirical studies of individual voting behavior during union representation elections use a rational choice model. Recently, however, some have posited that voting is often influenced by emotions. We evaluate competing hypotheses about the determinants of union voting behavior by using data collected from a 2010 representation election at Delta Air Lines, a US-based company. In addition to the older rational choice framework, multiple regression results provide support for an emotional choice model. Positive feelings toward the employer are statistically significantly related to voting ‘no’ in a representation election, while positive feelings toward the union are related to a ‘yes’ vote. Effect sizes for the emotion variables were generally larger than those for the rational choice variables, suggesting that emotions may play a key role in representation election outcomes.


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© Wiley. Final version published as: Eaton, A. E., Rogers, S. E., Chang, T. F. H., & Voos, P. B. (2014). Choosing union representation: The role of attitudes and emotions. Industrial Relations Journal, 45(2), 169-188.
doi: 10.1111/irj.12056
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.