The state versus managers
The model described in Chapter 2 was an oversimplification of what actually occurred in French coal mining. The predictions from the model fit the data well; however, Chapter 2 suggested that wages were determined by the actions of autonomous private sector employers and unions. In fact, the state was an extremely active participant in the industrial relations in French coal mining. The primary labor contracts were negotiated in formal trilateral sessions with management, the union, and government representatives. Moreover, the state frequently imposed its will on the final settlement by exerting unilateral pressure on one of the two sides to make concessions. Because the state had substantial legal resources at its disposal, the party receiving pressure often had little recourse but to submit to the wishes of the public authorities. Thus, one cannot fully understand the process of wage determination in French coal mining without a coherent account of the logic of state intervention into the negotiating process, and how it would interact with the normal dynamics of two-party bargaining.