Industry agreements increase wages for low-skilled workers, while company agreements increase medium- and high-skilled wages

The impact of the development of modern systems of collective bargaining on the structure of wages in the post-socialist economies of Central Europe remains largely unexplored. This (open access) article seeks to fill this gap.
Using a large, matched employer-employee data set, the authors investigate the impact of company and industry collective bargaining agreements on wages in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland (CE3). They also examine the changing characteristics of the union wage premium in different cohorts of establishments. Their results challenge the common idea of weak unions in the CE3 by revealing a union wage premium whose characteristics depend on the level at which collective bargaining occurs. They find that industry agreements increase wages for low-skilled workers, while company agreements increase medium- and high-skilled wages. Their second finding is that the union wage premium is unevenly distributed between cohorts, with substantial cross-country variation. Wage premiums are concentrated in the transitional cohorts in the Czech Republic and Poland and, to a lesser extent, in the pre-transitional cohort in Hungary.

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