Category Archives: Collective Bargaining – Public Sector

The Paradox of Federal Sector Labor Relations: Voluntary Unionism Without Collective Bargaining Over Wages and Employee Benefits

Source: Samuel Estreicher, New York University Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 15-40, September 30, 2015

From the abstract:
Federal sector unionism is a paradox. Despite the outlawry of union-security provisions and strikes, sharp limits on the scope of collective bargaining (outside the U.S. Postal Service and airport air traffic controllers), and the absence of card-check certification, federal employees join unions and pay dues. The union membership rate is lower than in state and local governments but considerably higher than in the private sector. Somewhat fewer employee pay dues than are covered by collective agreements but the free-riding effect is smaller than one would expect. The federal sector suggests a model of relatively low-stakes unionism and collective bargaining that perhaps should be considered as an alternative by labor organizations and policymakers. The federal-sector mode may, however, require certain features that are not readily replicable in the private sector: the absence of a right to strike in favor of some measure of interest arbitration as a deadlock-breaking device, an absence of employer opposition, and statutory employment protections.

Collective Bargaining and District Costs for Teacher Health Insurance: An Examination of the Data from the BLS and Wisconsin

Source: Robert M. Costrell, Journal of School Choice, Vol. 9 no. 4, 2015

From the abstract:
District costs for teachers’ health insurance are, on average, higher than employer costs for private-sector professionals. How much of this is attributable to collective bargaining? This paper examines the question using data from the National Compensation Survey (NCS) of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the state of Wisconsin. In addition, the impact of collective bargaining on employer costs is decomposed into the impact on total premiums and the employer’s share of those premiums.

The BLS data show that unionization is associated with higher total premiums, higher employer costs, and lower employee contributions in both the public and private sectors. This suggests that the high unionization rate among teachers plays a significant role in districts’ higher average cost. Varying strength of teachers unions across states also helps explain the wide variation in district costs. In states with strong unions, such as Wisconsin, prior to 2011, district insurance costs can be very expensive. It is in those states that the opportunities for district cost reduction are most promising. I examine newly available data from Wisconsin to quantify the impact of that state’s 2011 change in collective bargaining law, Act 10. I find a sharp reduction in district costs from lower-cost policies and higher teacher contributions: 13 to 19 percent in the first year after Act 10, and 18 to 23 percent after the second year, relative to projected district costs.

The Right to Strike

Source: Ari Paul, Jacobin, September 18, 2015

“Right-to-work” is coming to the public sector. The key to survival is social movement unionism. ….. If anything, the fear Friedrichs inspires could force unions to do the type of everyday, internal organizing that dissidents and reform activists often complain doesn’t happen. While this could distract from other efforts, it could also drive unions to reconnect with their membership — actually improving their chances of surviving in the long term. In addition, some argue it’s too fatalistic to equate right-to-work with union decline, because a well-organized union could still thrive. Union membership in Indiana has remained steady despite right-to-work legislation passed in 2012 (although a failure to reach good contracts in the years to come could spark a mass exodus). Culinary Workers Union Local 226, which primarily represents Las Vegas casino workers, maintains a 90 percent density rate in a right-to-work state because of its on-the-ground organizing. The obvious counterexample to this is Wisconsin, where union membership has plummeted since going right-to-work. But there’s an obvious explanation: public unions there can’t collectively bargain. For unions who can demonstrate dues money makes it possible to fight and win, it’s a much easier sell. …..

Pay Just Part of Cities’ Solutions to Recruitment and Retention Challenges

Source: Ed Lamb HR News, Vol. 81 no. 7, July 2015
(subscription required)(scroll down)

….Though their timelines shift and the exact details vary, Las Vegas and Wausau have also labored under tight labor budgets, shrinking workforces and diminishing institutional memory for the better part of the past decade. Those two cities also had to navigate potentially contentious negotiations with public employee unions. In Wisconsin, Proposition 10 eliminated most collective bargaining rights for state and local employee who are not firefighters, law enforcement officials and other public safety workers. Las Vegas city workers are represented by a mix of six unions, plus those for fire crews and police. ….Recounting his experiences in Las Vegas, Tarwater said that union representatives recognized early that keeping jobs was a much more achievable goal than negotiating raises and enhanced benefits. Therefore, unions largely agreed to suspend collective bargaining in exchange for assurances that maximal efforts would be made to avoid layoffs and to rework contracts when the economy improved…. Significant aspects of the new union contracts Las Vegas has adopted include moving toward merit-based pay increases, cash bonuses awarded for exemplary performance in lieu of guaranteed annual raises and cost-of-living adjustments linked explicitly to the federal Consumer Price Index….

Organized Labor, the Supreme Court, and Harris v. Quinn: Déjà Vu All Over Again?

Source: William B. Gould IV, Stanford Public Law Working Paper No. 2572695, March 2, 2015

From the abstract:
Harris v Quinn presented this issue anew in 2014 – it was the most recent chapter of litigation concerning “union security agreements” and their permissibility in the public sector – but by no means will it be the last. Harris relates to the constitutionality of such agreements, which compel membership or financial obligations on the part of union represented employees (frequently as a condition of employment) and endure throughout our economy in the private sector, as well as the more recently-organized public portion of it. The resolution of this and related issues inevitably affect, in some measure, the role of trade unions in American society. It cannot be gainsaid that this involves the democratic process itself in a pluralistic society, through which unions attempt to achieve their objectives through both the collective bargaining and political processes. For more than two centuries, the issue of so-called union security agreements, which compel membership in a labor organization in some sense of the word, has been fought out in American labor-management relations and in the courts. Complicating the contemporary relationship is that organized labor is in a period of retreat and decline. Related to this issue is the question of appropriate union discipline authority imposed on workers who defy various kinds of union rules and who are ostracized, for instance, over such matters such as strike-breaking.

The Whiteness of Wisconsin’s Wages: Racial Geography and the Defeat of Public Sector Labor Unions in Wisconsin

Source: Hannah Walker & Dylan Bennett, New Political Science, Volume 37 Issue 2, 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In 2011, the passage of Wisconsin Act 10 eliminated substantive collective bargaining rights for public employees in Wisconsin. How did politicians in Wisconsin invoke racial symbolism in the policy contest over public sector collective bargaining rights? To what extent did this policy battle reconstruct racial identities of blackness and whiteness? In this analysis, we leverage a multi-method approach to speak to these questions. We use a historical analysis of race in Milwaukee and current public opinion around support for public sector cuts to frame a discourse analysis of political rhetoric employed by the Walker campaign. We join critical race perspectives to examine how politicians play on existing inequalities as a method of gaining political and electoral legitimacy and achieving a retrenchment of the modern state. Moreover, we build a case supporting the claim that Governor Walker and his allies activated the racial animus of white workers.

Academic Collective Bargaining: Patterns and Trends

Source: Curtis R. Sproul, Neil Bucklew, Jeffery D. Houghton, Academic Collective Bargaining: Patterns and Trends,” Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy: Vol. 6, Article 5, December 2014

From the abstract:
Educational services, particularly higher education, has slowly and methodically become one of the most heavily unionized segments, with much greater representation than traditional labor segments. Despite these changes, the increase in academic collective bargaining has not been well documented. Consequently, the purpose of the current paper is to examine recent trends in academic collective bargaining and to compare these trends with the current unionization and collective bargaining situation in other major industries in the United States. We begin with a comparative analysis of unionization in the United States by industry. The summary data we present indicate that the educational services industry is the third largest industry category in the United States and is the most highly unionized industry in the nation. Next, we tighten our focus to examine recent patterns and trends in academic collective bargaining. The data suggest that colleges and universities are a major sector in the overall employment landscape of the United States with academic collective bargaining representing one of the most important growth segments within the U.S. labor movement. In short, higher education unionization is expanding at a faster rate than overall union growth with the expansion of graduate student employee unionization as an area of special interest.

Post-Recession CBAs: A Study of Wage Increases in the Agreements of Four State-wide Faculty Unions

Source: Steve Hicks, Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy: Vol. 6, Article 4, December 2014

From the abstract:
The article looks at the post-Recession (2011) agreements of four state-wide faculties: California State system, SUNY, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Focusing on wages, the study starts with the context of state appropriations after the Recession and after ARRA. It finds that the agreements took longer, yet without job action, and each had a year with no salary increase, and some agreements include both no salary increase AND no seniority-based increase.

National Center Newsletters 1973-2000

Source: National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions, 2014

Between 1973 and 2000, the National Center published a bimonthly newsletter with contributions from directors and newsletter editors Maurice Benewitz, Thomas Mannix, Theodore H. Lang, Aaron Levenstein, Joel M. Douglas, Frank R. Annunziato and Beth H. Johnson. In addition, issues of the newsletter included contributions by other scholars including Clark Kerr, Fred Lane, Clara Lovett, Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, Myron Lieberman, Irwin Polishook, Matthew Finkin, Richard W. Hurd and Richard Chait.

Over its 27 year publication history, the newsletter contained articles, analysis and data on subjects that continue to be topical in higher education and the professions including: the impact of the Supreme Court’s Yeshiva University decision, the organizing and representation of adjunct faculty and graduate students, academic freedom and tenure, shared governance, discrimination and faculty strikes. The final issue of the newsletter appeared in 2000 with excerpts of a speech given by then AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney at the National Center’s 28th annual conference as the first annual Albert Shanker Lecture.

Our Best Line of Defense: Taking on Privatization at the Bargaining Table

Source: Canadian Union of Public Employees, ISBN 9780980929676, September 2014

This guide gives an overview of the privatization, contracting out and contracting in issues CUPE members face – along with sample collective agreement language for local bargaining committees, bargaining councils and staff representatives.

There are four major areas to look at when drafting and reviewing collective agreement language:
1. Getting ahead of privatization: notice, disclosure and consultation
2. Preventing privatization: language on contracting out
3. Reversing privatization: language on contracting in
4. Protecting benefits from privatization or delisting
Each section of this guide includes a brief overview and a list of issues for negotiations, as well as sample CUPE collective agreement language from a variety of sectors and regions. Articles dealing with contracting out are strongest when they are clauses within the body of the collective agreement, as they roll over into future agreements unless they are changed during bargaining.