[Excerpt] Also important to any analysis of labor costs in the public sector today is, of course, the effect of collective bargaining on wages. For reasons described in a recent article by Orley Ashenfelter, fire fighters provide an excellent test of union wage effects at the city level. This study will therefore use fire fighters as an example with which to assess and compare the effects on wages of both unionism and the structure of municipal government.
This article is in many respects an extension of the excellent study by Asehenfelter, who examined the effect of the International Association of Fire Fighters on wages of firemen over the 1960-66 period and concluded that the union did have a statistically significant impact. The present study analyzes the wages of firemen in 1969, adds the new variable of government structure, and provides a more accurate estimate of the wage effect of unionism through four changes in approach.