Source: Amelia Dantzer, Employment Alert, Volume 36, Issue 18, September 4, 2019
The Michigan Supreme Court has held in a ruling that governmental employees were not entitled to lifetime health benefits because their collective bargaining agreements (CBA) did not create a vested right to lifetime coverage. The court found that none of the relevant bargaining agreements included express language providing for vested, lifetime health benefits, and all the agreements contained “durational” clauses providing that the terms are only in effect for three years. Specifically, the court held that “[t]he CBAs contain a general three-year durational clause, and no provision specifies that the benefits in dispute are subject to any different duration. If the parties meant to vest healthcare benefits for life, they easily could have said so in the CBAs, but they did not.”
Source: S&P Global Ratings, July 11, 2019
Recent successful ballot petitions in Houston and San Antonio highlight a new method that collective bargaining units are using in Texas and its potential impact on municipal governance and finances.
Source: Timothy Reese Cain, Philip J. Wilkinson, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, Vol. 16 no. 2, May 2019
From the abstract:
Through a historical case study of the University of Wisconsin Teachers Union (American Federation of Teachers Local 223) this article considers the roles that early unionized faculty could play in influencing their institution without ever pursuing a contract. It argues that the Wisconsin local effectively used research and political power to improve conditions for instructional workers and to affect funding patterns across the institution. It did so while only ever attracting a minority of faculty to join. In addition to its important salary work, which was often focused on improving the conditions of the instructors and others at the lowest ranks, Local 223 addressed an array of educational and societal issues. As such, it had elements of what in the modern era might be considered social movement unionism, combining both efforts to aid members and activities designed for broader social change.
Source: Eric J. Brunner, Andrew Ju, ILR Review, Vol. 72 no. 2, March 2019
From the abstract:
Using the Public Use Microdata Sample from the 2005 to 2015 American Community Survey, the authors provide new evidence on how state collective bargaining laws affect public-sector wages. To isolate the causal effect of bargaining laws on public-sector pay, they examine wage differentials between otherwise similar public- and private-sector employees located in the same local labor market. They estimate difference-in-differences (DD) models that exploit two sources of plausibly exogenous variation: 1) policy discontinuities along state borders and 2) variation within states in collective bargaining laws in states where the majority of public workers are without collective bargaining rights. Findings show that mandatory collective bargaining laws increase public-sector wages by approximately 5 to 8 percentage points. Results therefore suggest that mandatory collective bargaining laws provide a formal mechanism through which public-sector workers are able to bargain for increased compensation.
Source: William A. Herbert, Jacob Apkarian, Perspectives on Work, 2017
From the abstract:
This article begins with a brief history of unionization and collective bargaining in higher education. It then presents data concerning the recent growth in newly certified collective bargaining representatives at private and public-sector institutions of higher education, particularly among non-tenure track faculty. The data is analyzed in the context of legal decisions concerning employee status and unit composition under applicable federal and state laws. Lastly, the article presents data concerning strike activities on campuses between January 2013 and May 31, 2017.
Source: Dave Staiger, Labor Notes, September 1, 2017
When confronted with a concessionary demand at the bargaining table, what if you filled the room with rank-and-file members? What would happen?
Kalamazoo, Michigan, teachers received an urgent message in July from their union’s private Facebook account for members: in bargaining, the district was demanding a pay freeze.
Within an hour teachers began to arrive at negotiations; soon they packed the room and turned the bargaining process on its head. All told, 46 members showed up at the union office on a beautiful summer day. The rapid response dramatically changed the course of bargaining…..
Source: Myra Warne, Labor Notes, July 27, 2017
In 2014, members of the Maysville Education Association voted to accept a deal that would end our pay freeze, which dated back to 2011, in exchange for replacing our traditional pay scale with a new merit-pay system.
Local union leaders were warned by Ohio Education Association staff that a return to the step-and-ladder system of regular raises might be impossible—or require a strike. But this year, as the money for sweeteners and incentives dried up, a group of members committed to winning back our old pay scale…..
Source: Jordana Feist, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Tabletalk blog, May 16, 2017
As a researcher, I regularly read the agreements that come into the office. Sometimes, it makes for encouraging reading – like when I read about the changes negotiated in the latest round of bargaining between CUPE Local 387 and the City of New Westminster in BC.
Their new agreement featured a long list of improvements, including:
– Provisions to reduce the use of seasonal workers by converting workers in that classification to regular full-time employees over two years.
– Benefits for all temporary full-time and temporary part-time workers.
– Two new letters of understanding addressing the issues around the auxiliary workforce and continuing the work to convert those positions to regular part-time and regular full-time.
– Benefit improvements and wage increases.
These would be excellent outcomes in any day, but Local 387 achieved all this in a climate where employers are pushing the use of temporary and seasonal workers and trying to restrict their access to health and benefit plans.
How did they get there? ….
Source: Iowa Policy Project, February 2017
From the summary:
…Drastic changes to collective bargaining could be devastating for Iowans. Lawmakers and the public should be aware of serious pitfalls associated with sweeping changes to this long-standing law (Chapter 20 of the Iowa Code) which carry implications for every school district, city, county, and state agency in Iowa. Of primary concern to all Iowans, economic impacts and ripple effects are likely to exacerbate existing trends — low and stagnating wages, growing uncertainty about access to health care, and increasing income inequality — putting many Iowa households on a downward path. These effects are likely to disproportionately harm rural communities and low-income workers, and to threaten the quality of the health care, public safety and public education systems upon which all Iowans depend.
Public employees are a significant share of the Iowa workforce. Of the nearly 1.6 million nonfarm payroll jobs in Iowa, about 1 in 7 jobs — 238,500 — are in state and local government. These workers are important to the state economy, as taxpayers supporting local schools and state and local services, and as consumers supporting local businesses and other private sector jobs. About half of Iowa’s public-sector workers — over 119,000 employees — are in jobs covered by 1,203 different contracts negotiated under Iowa’s current collective bargaining law:
• 34,400 state employees
• 11,595 county employees
• 11,562 city employees
• 56,402 local school employees
• 2,948 area education agency employees
• 2,114 community college employees
Impacts of any sweeping changes to collective bargaining will thus be significant and widespread, holding consequences for local economies, public services, and Iowa’s labor market as a whole….
Source: Jon O. Shimabukuro, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R44794, March 21, 2017
Title VII of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, commonly referred to as the “Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute” (FSLMRS), recognizes the right of most federal employees to engage in collective bargaining with respect to their conditions of employment. In 2016, 27.4% of all federal employees were members of a union. While the union membership rate for federal workers has declined slightly over the past ten years, it continues to exceed the union membership rate of 6.4% for private-sector employees.Under the FSLMRS, a labor organization becomes the exclusive representative of a collective bargaining unit following a secret ballot election in which a majority of the employees in the unit vote favorably for the union. Once selected, the union is responsible for representing the interests of all employees in the bargaining unit, even if an individual has chosen not to join the union. Unlike organized employees in the private sector, federal employees are prohibited from engaging in a strike. The FSLMRS does not permit the negotiation of matters that are specifically provided for by federal law, such as wages and retirement benefits. However, federal unions have bargained with management over a variety of other subjects, such as the availability of daycare facilities and the allocation of parking spaces. In addition, under the FSLMRS, unions may negotiate for the availability of “official time,” paid time off from assigned government duties to engage in activities related to labor-management relations. The ability to negotiate for official time has been of particular interest to Congress. Legislation that would require the reporting of official time and limit how such time is used has been introduced in the 115th Congress. This report provides background on the FSLMRS and discusses key rights afforded to federal employees and management under the statute. The report also examines the availability of official time, and reviews some of the significant official time cases decided by the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), the federal agency that administers the FSLMRS.