Category Archives: Public Sector

State and Local Government Workforce: 2012 Trends

Source: Center for State and Local Government Excellence, April 2012

From the press release:
A new survey by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence finds that more than half of state and local governments still have a pay freeze and are adjusting retirement and health care benefits. At the same time, the pace of layoffs has slowed with 28 percent reporting layoffs this year compared with 40 percent last year.

State and Local Government Workforce: 2012 Trends is a follow-up to three previous studies that have looked at questions related to the size of the workforce, compensation and benefits, and employees’ plans for retirement.

The top workforce issue cited in 2012 is the public perception of government workers. Issues that continue to rank as most important are retaining staff for core services, addressing employee morale and workload problems, staff development, and reducing employee health care costs.

Workforce changes include:
– Employees accelerating their plans for retirement (22 percent)
– Workforce has shrunk since the 2008 economic downturn (68 percent)
– Pay freezes (51 percent)
– Hiring freezes (42 percent)
– Layoffs (28 percent)

In the area of health care:
– Shifted more health care costs to employees (51 percent, down from 72 percent last year)
– Shifted more health care costs to retirees (11 percent, down from 23 percent)
– Created wellness programs (26 percent, down from 33 percent)

In the area of pensions:
– Raised employee contributions to pension plans for current workers (24 percent, up from 22 percent last year)
– Increased employee contributions for new hires (27 percent, up from 23 percent last year)
See also:

Feminist Collective Bargaining Meets the Civil Service

Source: Fred Glass, CPER Journal, No. 205, March 2012
(subscription required)

AFSCME may have fallen behind at the outset of public worker organizing in California, but by the mid-1960s it was toiling hard to make up for lost time, organizing in schools, city and county employment, and in the University of California system.

In San Jose, the city’s civil service workers association, the Municipal Employees Federation, affiliated with AFSCME in 1972, forming AFSCME Local 101. It was here, in the city that Mayor Janet Gray Hayes never tired of describing as “the feminist capital of the world,” that the old civil service personnel administration methods of adjusting salaries and job descriptions ran into a three-way pileup with collective bargaining and the impact of feminism on workplace organizing.

Steering the women workers through the collision and out to the other side was a determined and visionary organizer, Maxine Jenkins. Her vehicle, or weapon: comparable worth, which was based on the revolutionary idea that male and female workers should be paid equally for work requiring comparable skill, effort, and responsibility under similar working conditions.

Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index

Source: Arthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore, Jonathan Williams, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), 2012

In this fifth edition of Rich States, Poor States, Arthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore, and Jonathan Williams identify the states that experience prosperity and those that continue to struggle, highlighting the policies that contribute to economic well-being in the 50 states. The authors also provide the 2012
ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index, based on state economic policies. Through the empirical evidence and analysis contained within these pages, discover which policies lead to state economic growth and which policies states should avoid.

…The following variables are measured in the 2012 ALEC-Laffer State Economic Outlook ranking:
• Highest Marginal Personal Income Tax Rate
• Highest Marginal Corporate Income Tax Rate
• Personal Income Tax Progressivity
• Property Tax Burden
• Sales Tax Burden
• Tax Burden from All Remaining Taxes
• Estate Tax/Inheritance Tax (Yes or No)
• Recently Legislated Tax Policy Changes
• Debt Service as a Share of Tax Revenue
• Public Employees per 1,000 Residents
• Quality of State Legal System
• Workers’ Compensation Costs
• State Minimum Wage
• Right-to-Work State (Yes or No)
• Tax or Expenditure Limits

This fifth edition of Rich States, Poor States provides 50 unique snapshots from our “laboratories of democracy” for you to evaluate. Study the rankings, read the evidence, and learn about the proven principles that lead to economic growth, job creation, and a higher standard of living for all Americans….
Arthur Laffer’s Rich States, Poor States Is More Wish List Than Analysis
Source: Citizens for Tax Justice, April 13, 2012

States Taking a Hard Look at Pensions

Source: Patty Kujawa, Workforce Management, February 10, 2012

Considering that state and local pension systems are staring at $4 trillion in unfunded liabilities, it’s no wonder that pension reform is on the minds of legislators across the country. Workforce Management takes a state-by-state look at the mounting problems and potential solutions being considered.
See also:
State Public Sector Retirement Plan Roundup
Source: Lisa Beyer, Patty Kujawa and Rita Pyrillis, February 10, 2012

The Feminization of Austerity

Source: Mimi Abramovitz, New Labor Forum, Vol. 21 no. 1, Winter 2012
(subscription required)

The current attack on public sector unions is the latest step in a long-term effort to “end big government” through a three-pronged strategy that falls heavily on women. The strategy targets three public sector groups: service users, workers, and unions. Yet most of the prevailing analysis focuses on one group or another and thus misses the whole story and the strategy’s wider impact, particularly on white women and women of color–the people who comprise the majority of public sector program users, workers, and union members. This is largely a result of the gender division of labor…

Public Sector Labor Law in the Age of Obama

Source: Joseph E. Slater, Indiana Law Journal, Vol. 87, No. 1, 2012

From the abstract:
The attacks on public sector collective bargaining rights during the past year have arguably been the most important development in U.S. labor and employment law in recent memory. While the most famous and radical moves took place in Wisconsin and Ohio, over a dozen states have enacted significant restrictions on the rights of government employees and their unions. This is important, not least because public sector workers now comprise more than half the total number of union members in the U.S., and because of the broader political implications of “defunding” and otherwise crippling a major constituent of the Democratic Party.

This article, based on a symposium paper, discusses not only these developments but also other key events in public sector labor relations in recent years: the battle for collective bargaining rights at the Transportation Safety Administration; and recent cases interpreting a 2007 decision of the Missouri Supreme Court which held that the Missouri Constitution provided a right to collective bargaining for all public employees in the state (without defining what that right specifically entails).

Governance and the Impact of Public Employee Unions on Organizational Performance

Source: Sean Nicholson-Crotty, Jason A. Grissom, Jill Nicholson-Crotty, Public Performance & Management Review, Volume 35 Number 3, March 2012
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Research has long suggested that public employee unions may influence public organization performance by changing the allocation of resources and the management of personnel. Other elements of the governance context, such as the characteristics and behaviors of those who design public policies and run public programs, have less often been considered by researchers, an omission that helps to explain the mixed findings and conflicting conclusions regarding the influence of unions on outcomes. This study develops arguments regarding the impact of governance strategies on the relationship between collective bargaining and organizational performance and tests them in a sample of educational organizations. The results suggest that there is an association between strong teachers’ unions and lower student performance, but that the relationship can sometimes be moderated by school boards and superintendents.

Understanding Finances and Changes in Retiree Health Care

Source: Joshua Franzel and Alexander Brown, Government Finance Review, February 2012

From the summary:
This article from Center vice president for research Joshua Franzel and Center researcher Alex Brown advises governments to understand what has been done thus far to address OPEB liabilities so they can assess their own efforts and determine if their retiree health care programs are sustainable.

Are Public Employees Overpaid?

Source: Jeffrey Keefe, Labor Studies Journal, Vol. 37 no. 1, March 2012
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The research reported in this article shows that public employees, both state and local government employees, are not overpaid and may be slightly undercompensated. Comparisons with the private-sector employees that control for education, experience, hours of work, organizational size, gender, race, ethnicity, and disability indicate that the public-employment compensation (wages and benefits) penalty is relatively small. On average there is a 3.7 percent penalty in total compensation for full-time state and local employees when compared to similar private-sector employees. The data analysis also reveals substantially different approaches to staffing and compensation between the private and public sectors. On average, state and local public-sector workers are more highly educated than the private-sector workforce; 54 percent of full-time state and local public-sector workers hold at least a four-year college degree compared to 35 percent of full-time private sector workers. For college-educated labor, state and local governments pay salaries on average over 25 percent less than private employers. The public sector appears to set a floor on compensation, particularly improving the compensation of workers with high-school educations, when compared to similarly educated workers in the private sector. Benefits are allocated differently between private- and public-sector full-time workers. State and local government employees receive a higher portion of their compensation in the form of employer-provided benefits. Public employers provide better health insurance and pension benefits. National polling data indicate that the public does not believe public employees are overpaid. They oppose pay and benefit cuts, but believe pay freezes and greater employee contributions to their health and pensions plans may be appropriate. Nevertheless, thirteen states revised their public-sector collective-bargaining laws, mainly weakening employee bargaining power or severely restricting or eliminating collective bargaining, while the majority of the public opposed those changes.