The public’s disdain for the public sector is leading to retirements, layoffs and discussions about the future role of government.
Americans still overwhelmingly believe that those employed in the private sector work harder than government workers but receive less compensation and have less job security.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of American Adults shows that 70% say private sector employees work harder than their counterparts in the government. That’s up four points from June and is just a point below the highest result measured in December 2009. Only 11% think government employees work harder than those in the private sector. Nineteen percent (19%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
* Paul M. Secunda, Promoting Employee Voice in the New American Economy
* Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt, Promoting Employee Voice in the American Economy: A Call for Comprehensive Reform
* Laura J. Cooper, Letting the Puppets Speak: Employee Voice in the Legislative History of the Wagner Act
* Aditi Bagchi, Who Should Talk? What Counts as Employee Voice and Who Stands to Gain
* Ann C. Hodges, Avoiding Legal Seduction: Reinvigorating the Labor Movement to Balance Corporate Power
* Joseph E. Slater, Lessons from the Public Sector: Suggestions and a Caution
* Richard Michael Fischl, Labor Law, the Left, and the Lure of the Market
* Scott A. Moss,Yes, Labor Markets are Flawed–But so is the Economic Case for Mandating Employee Voice in Corporate Governance
* Briana R. Barron, Silent Warning: The FDA’s Ban on Off-Label Speech: Is it Protecting our Safety?
* Thomas J. Burmeister, Jr., Burnin’ Down the House–And Deducting it Too: Charitable Contributions of Buildings to Fire Departments Under I.R.C. § 170
Conservatives saw the greatest success on elements of their agenda that they were able to convince the public were directly tied to state budget shortfalls. Collective bargaining rights for teachers, nurses, and other public servants — but especially their retirement funds — saw the most significant rollbacks. West Virginia was the only state where legislators even introduced bills to expand collective bargaining rights (HB 2155/SB 5 and HB 2675) and raise wage standards for public servants (HB 3110).
Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio stole the show this year not only with the dramatic attacks on the collective bargaining rights of nurses, teachers, firefighters, and snowplow drivers, but for the even more captivating stands made by legislators and working people to protect them. Yet the coordinated assault on bedrock collective bargaining rights of public employees was by no means limited to these three states. In all, 25 legislatures introduced bills to roll back public servants’ right to collective bargaining, with 13 of them ultimately passing one or more bills: in addition to the above, Florida, Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Not all legislation was as comprehensive in scope as Wisconsin’sand Ohio’sbills. Many targeted particular types of workers, such as Idaho and Tennessee bills stripping teachers of bargaining rights, or the procedures used in arbitrating disputes as in Nebraska…
An issue for Congress and state and local governments is whether the pay and benefits of public workers are comparable to those of workers in the private sector. To deal with budget deficits, many policymakers are looking at the pay and benefits of public sector employees as a way to reduce government spending. This report provides a comparison of selected characteristics–including age, education, and occupation–of public and private sector workers.
From 1955 to 2010, employment in the private sector increased by 64.1 million jobs (from 43.7 million to 107.8 million), while the number of jobs in the public sector (including federal, state, and local governments) grew by 15.5 million (from 7.0 million to 22.5 million). Since 1975, however, the percentage of all jobs that are in the public sector has fallen from 19.2% to 17.3%.
Union coverage has declined among all workers, but the decline has been greater in the private sector than in the public sector. In 2009, for the first time, a majority of employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement were employed in the public sector. Private sector workers who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement are generally paid higher wages and receive more or better benefits than workers who are not covered by a union contract. In the federal government, except for the Postal Service and some smaller agencies, employees do not bargain over wages.
Source: Amanda Cuda, HR News, Vol. 77 no. 7, July 2011
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All over the country, many states are fighting battles over exactly how much negotiating power unions should have, and some wonder what the future of collective bargaining will look like.
Source: Arthur L. Finkle, HR News, Vol. 77 no. 7, July 2011
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The New York Times reported in April 2011 a litany of union devolution. In Wisconsin, the newly elected governor sought to materially curtail the collective bargaining rights of public employees. New Hampshire, Ohio, and Indiana have followed suit.
Three-fourths of the states allow collective bargaining for their public employees. They will be awaiting developments in their own legislatures; the inevitable court challenges and the possibility of another voter realignment that will protect public workers.
We live in a democracy governed by a constitution. Each state has a constitution. There is no constitutional guarantee for collective bargaining (or unions, for that matter) in the public sector. Public unionization and collective bargaining are products of legislation as a part of the “Great Society” movement in the late 1960s.
Virtually all full-time state government workers are eligible to participate in employer-provided health plans and are given access to the same health plan in retirement. The rising cost of health care has rapidly increased the total expense to public sector employers of providing health insurance. These costs have also risen as a proportion of payroll and as a percentage of state budgets. Moreover, state governments are facing staggering levels of unfunded actuarially accrued liabilities associated with the provision of retiree health insurance. This issue brief provides a detailed analysis of the health plans in three large states, California, North Carolina, and Ohio. In addition to documenting the rising costs, this brief reviews recent changes in plans and policy options to help contain expenditures on health insurance.
By Mari Jo Buhle and Paul Buhle
Protests in Wisconsin revive the state of “badgerness.”
Learning from Wisconsin
By Jamie Owen Daniel
The wolf is now inside your house, so organize.
Social Protest and the Future of Higher Education in Puerto Rico
By Victor M. Rodríguez
Repression and civil rights absuses have accompanied protests against tuition hikes.
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube–and Democracy
By Bob Samuels
The shape of new social movements shaped by social media.
Academic Librarians in the Breach
By Steve Aby
Distinctions matter, even in the heat of attacks against collective bargaining.
States are putting limits on their pension plans and retiree benefits, usually calling for employees to pay more toward their future.