The Legislative Upheaval in Public-Sector Labor Law: A Search for Common Elements

Source: Martin H. Malin, ABA Journal of Labor & Employment Law, 2012

From the abstract:
The 2010 elections lead to major changes in the law governing public employee collective bargaining in numerous states. Most visible were the changes in Wisconsin, which led to the largest demonstrations in Madison since the Vietnam War, and in Ohio which were repealed by an overwhelming vote in a public referendum. Less noticed were repeals of collective bargaining laws in Oklahoma and Tennessee and significant changes to the laws in Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada and New Jersey. This article examines the legislative upheavals in these states, searching for common elements. It finds the following trends among the enactments: eliminating collective bargaining rights for all or some employees, limiting the scope of bargaining, changes to impasse resolution processes in ways that advantage employers, and providing for amending or revoking collective bargaining agreements during period of fiscal distress. It places these changes in historical context, observing that the 1990s saw a similar upheaval that limited public employee collective bargaining rights in various states while the 2000s saw the pendulum swing in the opposite direction as many states expanded public employee collective bargaining. It suggests that future swings of the pendulum will depend on the outcomes in future elections.

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