The War Against Public Sector Collective Bargaining in the US

Source: Richard B. Freeman and Eunice Han, Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 54 no. 3, June 2012
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From the abstract:
The 2008-2009 recession created major budgetary problems in US cities and states. Conservative Republicans who had triumphed in many state elections in 2010 introduced laws to weaken or eliminate public sector bargaining on the grounds that it contributed to the deficits and hampered government responses to the crisis. Unions and their allies fought back in an effort to preserve collective bargaining and unionism in its last stronghold in the country. This article finds that states with public sector bargaining laws have higher debt-to-state gross domestic product (GDP) ratios and slightly higher deficits than states without such laws, but that the dominant cause of the budgetary problem was the recession, and that unions gave sizable wage and benefit concessions to deal with the crisis. The main motivations for the attack appear to be political opportunism and ideological opposition to governments bargaining with their employees. The majority of citizens favored maintaining public sector bargaining. The backlash from unions and their supporters to the attack in two key states, Ohio and Wisconsin, was sufficiently vigorous to suggest that the long-run effects of the war on collective bargaining may boomerang against the opponents of unionization.

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