Category Archives: Labor Unions

Symposium 2012: The Role of ADR Mechanisms in Public Sector Labor Disputes: What Is at Stake, Where We Can Improve, and How We Can Learn from the Private Sector

Source: Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution, Vol. 28 no. 1, 2013
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• Considering Final Offer Arbitration to Resolve Public Sector Impasses in Times of Concession Bargaining – by Michael Carrell & Richard Bales
• The Importance of Impasse Resolution Procedures to Recent Revisions of Wisconsin Public Sector Labor Law – by Howard S. Bellman
• The Use of Alternative Dispute Resolution Techniques to Resolve Public Sector Bargaining Disputes – by Charles B. Craver
• Unions and ADR: The Relationship between Labor Unions and Workplace Dispute Resolution in U.S. Corporations – by Ariel C. Avgar, J. Ryan Lamare, David B. Lipsky, & Abhishek Gupta
• Innovation and Transformation in Public Sector Employment Relations: Future Prospects on a Contested Terrain – by Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld & Saul A. Rubinstein
• Two Models of Interest Arbitration – by Martin H. Malin
• Employing the Presidential Executive Order and the Law to Provide Integrated Conflict Management Systems and ADR Processes: The Proposed National Employment Dispute Resolution Act (NEDRA) – by Lamont E. Stallworth & Daniel J. Kaspar

Viewpoint: The Decline of Unions Is Your Problem Too

Source: Eric Liu, Time, January 29, 2013

…First, the fact is that when unions are stronger the economy as a whole does better. Unions restore demand to an economy by raising wages for their members and putting more purchasing power to work, enabling more hiring. On the flip side, when labor is weak and capital unconstrained, corporations hoard, hiring slows, and inequality deepens. Thus we have today both record highs in corporate profits and record lows in wages.

Second, unions lift wages for non-union members too by creating a higher prevailing wage. Even if you aren’t a member your pay is influenced by the strength or weakness of organized labor. The presence of unions sets off a wage race to the top. Their absence sets off a race to the bottom.

Unfortunately, the relegation of organized labor to tiny minority status and the fact that the public sector is the last remaining stronghold for unions have led many Americans to see them as special interests seeking special privileges, often on the taxpayer’s dime. This thinking is as upside-down as our economy.

This country has gotten to today’s level of inequality because, ironically, those who work for a living think like atomized individuals while those who hire for a living organize collectively to rig policy in their favor. Today’s 97-year low is the result of decades of efforts to squeeze unions and disperse their power….

Unionization and Work Attitudes: How Union Commitment Influences Public Sector Job Satisfaction

Source: Randall S. Davis, Public Administration Review, Volume 73 Issue 1, January/February 2013
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From the abstract:
This article explores whether union commitment dampens public sector job satisfaction. By examining the connection between union commitment and two workplace attributes that are presumed to be more prevalent in public sector workplaces—perceptions of higher red tape and greater public service motivation—this article develops three hypotheses exploring the direct and indirect relationships between union commitment and public sector job satisfaction. The findings from a series of structural equation models indicate that union commitment directly increases members’ job satisfaction, but it more prominently increases members’ job satisfaction indirectly by reducing perceived red tape and enhancing public service motivation.

In Walmart and Fast Food, Unions Scaling Up a Strike-First Strategy

Source: Jenny Brown, Labor Notes, January 23, 2013

Small but highly publicized strikes by Walmart retail and warehouse workers last fall set the labor movement abuzz and gained new respect for organizing methods once regarded skeptically. … [R]etail workers who staff the stores, warehouse workers who move Walmart’s goods, and even guest workers who peel crawfish for a supplier are ignoring the path laid out by U.S. labor law, in which workers sign a petition asking to vote on a union. Instead, they’re exercising their rights to redress grievances together, whether a majority can be rallied to support the effort or not. One-day strikes in dozens of stores last October and November protested illegal retaliation against those who had spoken up at their workplaces and joined the Organization United for Respect at Walmart. Several had been fired and many experienced threats and cuts in hours for their participation. “We have a way to respond to illegal actions,” Schlademan said: “the power of the strike.” …

State Union Membership, 2012

Source: John Schmitt, Janelle Jones, and Milla Sanes, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Issue Brief, January 2013

From the abstract:
On January 23, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its estimates for union membership in the United States in 2012. This issue brief focuses on the union membership numbers by state. In addition to presenting the BLS estimates for overall union membership in each state, we also provide our own breakdown of state union membership in the private and public sector.

Figure 1: Change in Union Membership, 2011-2012, All Workers
Figure 2: Change in Union Membership. 2011-2012, Private Sector
Figure 3: Change in Union Membership, 2011-2012, Public Sector

State-Level Policies Threaten to Further Weaken Unions

Source: David Madland and Nick Bunker, Center for American Progress, January 23, 2013

…State-level policy has recently become increasingly important to the fate of unions. States such as Indiana and Michigan passed “right-to-work” laws in 2012 that undermine the strength of unions by requiring them to provide services for which they are not compensated, while Wisconsin passed a law in 2011 that repealed collective bargaining rights for most of the state’s public-sector workers. These policy choices, as well as similar ones made in the past, can significantly impact unionization rates, and they help explain the wide variation in unionization among states. Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics data released today, along with data from an online database managed by economists Barry T. Hirsch and David A. Macpherson, we can see how trends in unionization have differed across states in recent years….

Public-Sector Union Numbers, 2012

Source: John Schmitt, Center for Economic and Policy Research, January 23, 2013

… The number of public-sector union members fell by 234,000 last year. This is partly the product of a decline in employment in the sector, which has seen employment fall every year since 2009. But, the share of public-sector workers in unions also fell, from 37.0 percent in 2011 to 35.9 percent in 2012. This sizeable drop may well reflect the organized attacks against public-sector workers in states such as Wisconsin, where public-sector union membership dropped by about 48,000 workers. …

The Real Reason for the Decline of American Unions

Source: Kris Warner, Bloomberg View, Echoes: Dispatches From Economic History blog, January 23, 2013

Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual summary of unionization in the U.S. It reports that in 2012, the union-membership rate of wage and salary workers was 11.3 percent, compared with 11.8 percent in 2011. The trend has been downward for some time: Fifty years ago, the figure was almost 30 percent.

It’s conventional wisdom that the post-industrial workforce doesn’t want to be unionized. But survey data show that workers’ desire to join unions has been growing since the 1980s, and a majority of nonunion workers would now vote for union representation if given the opportunity. So if workers want unions, why is unionization falling?

Commentators have also blamed the decline on everything from globalization to technological advances to the hollowing-out of American manufacturing. But those factors are only part of the story.

Canada’s experience offers another answer. Canada has gone through many of the same economic and social changes as the U.S. since the middle of the 20th century, yet it hasn’t seen the same precipitous decline in unionization. The unionization rate in the U.S. and Canada followed fairly similar paths from 1920 to the mid-1960s, at which point they began to diverge drastically.

Differences in labor law and public policy are at the root of this disparity. …

Union Members — 2012

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Division of Labor Force Statistics, Economic News Release, USDL-13-0105, January 23, 2013

In 2012, the union membership rate–the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of a union–was 11.3 percent, down from 11.8 percent in 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.4 million, also declined over the year. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent, and there were 17.7 million union workers.

The data on union membership were collected as part of the Current Population Survey(CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that obtains information on employment and unemployment among the nation’s civilian noninstitutional population ages 16 and over. For more information, see the Technical Note.

Highlights from the 2012 data:

–Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (35.9 percent) more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.6 percent). (See table 3.)
–Workers in education, training, and library occupations and in protective service occupations had the highest unionization rates, at 35.4 and 34.8 percent, respectively. (See table 3.)
–Black workers were more likely to be union members than were white, Asian, or Hispanic workers. (See table 1.)
–Among states, New York continued to have the highest union membership rate (23.2 percent), and North Carolina again had the lowest rate (2.9 percent). (See table 5.)

Union Membership and Political Participation in the United States

Source: Jasmine Kerrissey, Evan Schofer, Social Forces, First published online: January 9, 2013
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From the abstract:
This article examines the effect of union membership on civic and political participation in the late 20th century in the United States. We discuss why and how unions seek to mobilize their members and where mobilization is channeled. We argue that union membership affects electoral and collective action outcomes and will be larger for low socioeconomic status individuals. Statistical analyses find that union membership is associated with many forms of political activity, including voting, protesting, association membership, and others. Union effects are larger for less educated individuals, a group that otherwise exhibits low levels of participation. Union membership is not associated with outcomes distant from union political agendas, such as general volunteering and charitable giving, suggesting that unions generate political capital rather than generalized social capital.