Union experience and worker policy: Legislative behavior in California, 1999-2012

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Unions influence the U.S. political process in numerous ways. Although scholarship has examined labor's effects on political office-holding, less research is available on the relationship between unions and legislator policy choice. In this article, I use theories of social identification, civic engagement, and intergenerational transfer of political values to explore the relationship between various definitions of a legislator's prior union experience and his or her roll-call voting once in office. I employ multilevel mixedeffects regressions to analyze 2,427 federal and statewide workerrelated votes cast by California's legislators from 1999 to 2012. Results indicate that higher probabilities of having worked in a unionized occupation or having a family member who belonged to a union are positively associated with voting for union-supported issues. The relationship is not cumulative, however, and is moderated by factors both endogenous and exogenous to the legislator.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-141
Number of pages29
JournalIndustrial and Labor Relations Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2016


  • Legislator behavior
  • Multilevel models
  • Roll-call voting
  • Unions
  • Worker policies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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