Job Satisfaction and Union Participation: The Role of Fit

Justin P. Wiegand, Robert Bruno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Job satisfaction’s role as an antecedent to union participation has often been proposed as a negative relationship, but empirical support is lacking. To clarify boundary conditions of this relationship, we turn to the exit-voice tradeoff and the attraction-selection-attrition framework. We suggest a negative job satisfaction–union participation relationship exists only among workers lacking fit with their colleagues (“person-workgroup fit”). We employed a distance-based measure of person-workgroup fit to analyze data from 777 workers across three unions (90 percent public sector) located in a large Midwestern city. Results indicate fit’s moderating role—relatively high fit workers participate in union activities irrespective of their job satisfaction, but workers with relatively low fit participate more when dissatisfied with their jobs. Our findings inform theory on antecedents of union participation and the strategic choices unions face in organizing and reinvigorating lay activism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-319
Number of pages23
JournalLabor Studies Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • attraction-selection-attrition
  • exit-voice tradeoff
  • job satisfaction
  • moderation
  • person-environment fit
  • union participation
  • vocational interests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial relations
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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