Category Archives: Collective Bargaining – Public Sector

Attacks on collective bargaining: Hidden costs, untold consequences for Iowans

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….

Collective Bargaining and the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute: Selected Legal Issues

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.

Bargaining for the Common Good

Source: Joseph A. McCartin, Dissent, Spring 2016

….Two things made the Minneapolis People’s Congress particularly significant. First, it signaled a deep alignment of community and labor organizations, a potentially potent melding of their interests, organizational energies, and agendas that went well beyond the merely transactional forms of coalition-making that we have often seen between labor and community organizations in the past. Unions did not merely enlist community groups to support their contract campaigns; instead unions and their allies built a common agenda from the ground up. Second, this extraordinary gathering was the most fully articulated example of a growing phenomenon: unions and community partners collaborating to challenge twenty-first century capitalism, reviving democracy and government integrity in the process….. But the Minneapolis gathering was more than simply another iteration of an oft-repeated union tradition. It represented something new, a conscious effort to tie union-community mobilization to the function that lies at the very heart of unionism: collective bargaining. Since the rise of a routinized collective-bargaining regime—first in the 1940s and ’50s in the private sector, and then in the 1960s and ’70s in the public sector—collective bargaining had come to mean a binary negotiation between unionized workers and their direct employers. Although unions repeatedly sought community allies, they never tried to enlist them in a common effort to break out of the employer-union binary and bargain together on behalf of workers and their communities. The Minneapolis effort is a significant step in that direction…..

Monetary Compensation of Full-Time Faculty at American Public Regional Universities: The Impact of Geography and the Existence of Collective Bargaining

Source: Stephen G. Katsinas, Johnson A. Ogun, and Nathaniel J. Bray, Education Policy Center, Research Paper Presented at the 43rd Annual National Conference of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions, April 3, 2016

This paper examines monetary compensation of 127,222 full-time faculty employed by the 390 regional universities in the United States who are members of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Compensation data published by the U.S. Department of Education and organizations concerned with faculty, including the American Association of University Professors and others, typically lump all four-year public university faculty together, ignoring well-known differences in teaching workloads at different types of public four-year universities (four instead of two courses taught each term, etc.). Further, many compensation studies do not examine fringe benefits, which are 330 percent of total monetary compensation. ….. As large numbers of “baby boom” era faculty at regional universities approach retirement, an accurate base-line assessment of total monetary compensation (salaries and fringe benefits) is important. This study examines (1) salaries and fringe benefits, (2) includes the entire universe of U.S. regional universities, (3) examines differences by geographic peer institutional types, and (4) examines if the presence or lack of collective bargaining matters. ….. The differences are even wider when the presence or lack of collective bargaining is considered. Among the 127, 222 full-time faculty at regional universities, 74,468 or 63% worked at the 219 institutions in the 30 states that in 2011 had collective bargaining (as reported in the 2012 Directory of Collective Bargaining published by the National Center for Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions), while 52,754 or 37% were employed at the 171 regional universities in the 20 states that did not. Full-time faculty at rural, suburban, and urban regional universities with collective bargaining received on average $92,407, $116,353, and $108,399 in total monetary compensation in FY2011; this compared to averages of $82,722, $84,813, and $86,594 at rural, suburban, and urban regional universities without. …..

Collective Bargaining, Irate Taxpayers Drive Public Policy

Source: Minchin Lewis, PA Times Online, December 15, 2015

….Collective bargaining in the public sector brings public employees together with their employers to establish working conditions, usually in formal contracts. In the private sector, such questions are settled by market forces. Employers control capital. Employees control labor. It is not so clear in the public sector with many implications for policy….

Constraints on public sector bargaining in Canada

Source: Joseph B Rose, Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 58 no. 1, February 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This article examines public sector bargaining in Canada during the consolidation period (1998–2013). The period was associated with economic turbulence (sustained economic growth followed by the global economic crisis), support for neoliberal policies across the entire political spectrum (the adoption of free market policies and austerity budgets) and extensive litigation challenging the constitutionality of legislation restricting collective bargaining rights. To assess the impact of these environmental pressures on relative bargaining power, the study examined selected collective bargaining indicators – union membership, wage settlements and strike activity. Our results indicate that the relative bargaining power of public sector unions was eroded during this period. The article concludes that a period of highly constrained public sector collective bargaining will continue in the future.

The Effects of Collective Bargaining Rights on Public Employee Compensation: Evidence from Teachers, Firefighters, and Police

Source: Brigham R. Frandsen, ILR Review, Vol. 69 no. 1, January 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Widespread public-sector unionism emerged only in the 1960s, as individual states opened the door to collective bargaining for state and municipal workers. In this study, the author exploits differences in timing of legislative reforms across states to construct estimates of the causal effects of public-sector collective bargaining rights on pay, benefits, and employment for teachers, firefighters, and police. Perhaps surprisingly, estimates that allow for state fixed effects and state-specific trends show little effect on teachers’ pay, benefits, or employment, despite significantly increasing union presence among teachers. For firefighters, the results show a substantial positive effect on wages. For police, the wage effect was more modest but the workweek was significantly shortened.

Which Parts of Their Collective Bargaining Agreements Do the Friedrichs Plaintiffs Oppose?

Source: Andrew Strom, OnLabor blog, November 24, 2015

The theory of the Friedrichs case is that requiring the plaintiffs to pay fair share fees imposes a “severe and ongoing infringement” of their rights to free speech. Their Complaint asserts that each plaintiff “objects to many of the unions’ public policy positions, including positions taken in collective bargaining.” The fair share fees that are at issue in the case do not go to fund the unions’ public policy initiatives. Instead, they only fund activities that are germane to collective bargaining. And because of the way the case has been litigated, the plaintiffs have not identified which specific provisions in their collective bargaining agreements they oppose.

In their Supreme Court brief, the Friedrichs plaintiffs argue that wages and benefits for teachers can be controversial, and they assert that collective bargaining involves matters relating to education policy, but they never assert that they personally oppose their union on any issues addressed by their own collective bargaining agreements. While the brief is full of generalized assertions about collective bargaining agreements, it never addresses any of the specific collective bargaining agreements that apply to the plaintiffs. ….

….The unwillingness of the Friedrichs plaintiffs to identify the specific collective bargaining activities that they find objectionable is at odds with the heated rhetoric in their lawyers’ Supreme Court brief. While their lawyers assert that the Friedrichs plaintiffs are being forced to contribute money “for the propagation of opinions which [they] disbelieve[],” in fact, it appears that their agency fees are going to fund negotiation and enforcement of collective bargaining agreements that directly benefit them…..

Massive Rolling Strikes Shut Down Quebec

Source: Sonia Singh, Labor Notes, November 23, 2015

After provincial bargaining stalled, 400,000 public sector workers across Quebec walked out in October and November on rolling one-day strikes.

The government is proposing pension cuts and only a 3 percent salary increase over five years. Since coming to power in April 2014 it has already begun cuts to services, including slashing health and education funding.

The Common Front, a coalition of Quebec public sector unions, is coordinating the strikes, which include teachers, health care workers, and government employees. Members voted to authorize six days of strikes per union. These began with one-day strikes, staggered by region. The Common Front vowed that if no agreement was reached, all members would strike at the same time December 1-3.

Labor Notes interviewed Benoit Renaud and Philippe de Grosbois, who have both been on strike. Renaud is an adult education teacher in the city of Gatineau and a member of the La Fédération Autonome de L’enseignement. de Grosbois teaches in a pre-college program in Laval and is an executive of his local, which is part of the Confédération des Syndicats Nationaux.

At the time of the interview, a December general strike was still planned. However, the Common Front recently announced it’s postponing the strike while negotiations continue…..

Laws Enabling Public-Sector Collective Bargaining Have Not Led to Excessive Public-Sector Pay

Source: Jeffrey Keefe, Economic Policy Institute (EPI), Briefing Paper #409, October 16, 2015

From the summary:
Unlike many other countries, when the United States enacted its private-sector labor law, the National Labor Relations Act, in 1935, it did not include public employees within the same or similar framework for collective bargaining. Not until the late 1950s and 1960s did state and local governments grapple with a labor law to govern their rapidly growing public-sector labor forces. No state or local government chose to transplant the private-sector model of collective bargaining; instead they adopted some parts of it, chose to create no bargaining framework at all, or prohibited collective bargaining. This paper describes the rapid growth of labor laws that have enabled public-sector collective bargaining, and examines the effects of various labor law frameworks on public employee wages.
• Only 2 percent of the state and local public-sector workforce in 1960 had the right to bargain collectively. By 2010, that share had grown to 63 percent.
• While early on, many policymakers were concerned about the right to strike, a number of states did eventually extend the right to strike to more than 20 percent of public employees; however, all of these employees are in non–public safety positions. Thus the right to strike has not had catastrophic results in terms of threats to public safety or welfare.
• The right to strike has also not led to massive wage increases: Employees covered by the right to strike earn about 2 percent to 5 percent more than those without it.
• Public safety employees are effectively covered by binding interest arbitration, which has prevented strikes and has resulted in cost-effective and widely accepted settlements by the participants.
• This research finds no wage effect for public employees covered by collective bargaining attributable to binding interest arbitration when compared with mediation.
• Fact-finding, the most widely employed final dispute-resolution procedure, tends to favor the public employer, resulting in significantly lower wages for public employees, in the range of 2 percent to 5 percent less than other dispute resolution procedures.

Union security provisions, which require employees to contribute to the financial support of the union that has the exclusive right to represent them with respect to terms and conditions of employment, vary by state, locality, and various occupations.
• Dues checkoff, which is widespread in the public sector, has a small positive effect on wages, ranging from 0 percent to 3 percent; however, we suspect it has a major effect on union membership.
• Open-shop laws, which prohibit union security agreements, are associated with significantly lower public-employee wages, with estimates ranging from -4 percent to -11 percent, compared with no policy on union security.
• Agency-shop provisions, which require the payment only of a fee narrowly tailored to support a union’s collective bargaining activities, its contract enforcement, and employee grievance processing, are associated with significantly higher wages, ranging from 2 percent to 7 percent for public employees.

In summary, it is difficult to conclude that the relatively small wage effects of collective bargaining have led to serious distortions in the democratic process. Collective bargaining has resulted in higher public-employee wages in the range of 5 percent to 8 percent. There is some indication that collective bargaining has offset employer monopsony power in the public sector (Keefe 2015; Lewin, Kochan, and Keefe 2012), thus not producing excessive or distorted public-employee compensation, and has promoted internal equity (Keefe 2015, forthcoming).
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