Labor economist and industrial relations expert Joseph William Garbarino will be remembered on February 20 at at St. Jerome’s Catholic Church in El Cerrito, CA. He passed away on October 18, 2016, at the age of 96.
Garbarino joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, in 1949 as an assistant professor at the School of Business Administration and as a research associate in the Institute of Industrial Relations.
He served 27 years as the director of the Institute of Business and Economic Research, retiring in 1988. Upon retirement, the university honored Garbarino with the Berkeley Citation for Distinguished Achievement and Notable Service.
Garbarino was an early leader in the field of industrial relations, studying wage and income policy, health economics, and faculty and professional unionism. His research found that industries with high wage growth also had high productivity growth, but that this relationship was stronger in heavily unionized industries.
Garbarino’s work also revealed that wage gains were greater in industries with more market power. These insights revealed how labor markets impact product markets.
Garbarino was best known among his peers for his work on faculty unionism, according to former colleagues.
“Joe appreciated the complex internal politics of employee representation,” says Prof. Jonathan Leonard, the George Quist Chair in Business Ethics at Berkeley-Haas. “He found that when faculty unionized, it was often as part of a wider bargaining unit which included a larger number of professional and administrative staff whose interests came to dominate the resulting bargaining.”
Leonard noted the “vision and prescience” that Garbarino showcased in his influential paper “Unionism Without Unions: The New Industrial Relations?”.
“This paper correctly predicted the continued decline of unions, both as a result of direct employer opposition but also because employees could increasingly enjoy many of the benefits of unionism without being represented by unions themselves,” Leonard said.
A San Francisco Chronicle obituary further details Garbarino’s lifetime and accomplishments.