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Labor Relations. Lecture 11 – Administrative Processes in Government. Public Sector Labor Relations. Unions are groups of employees who create a formal organization (the union) to represent their interests before management.

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Labor relations l.jpg

Labor Relations

Lecture 11 – Administrative Processes in Government

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Public Sector Labor Relations

  • Unions are groups of employees who create a formal organization (the union) to represent their interests before management.

  • Labor relations is the term for all of the interactions between the union leaders (representing the employees) and management (representing the corporation or jurisdiction).

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Public Sector Labor Relations

  • Reasonable people might be both optimistic and pessimistic about the role of public employee unions.

    • Pessimistic because of the skill of public employee unions to get crippling pay raises without tradeoff increases in productivity.

    • Optimistic because unions offer hope of replacing civil service commissions as an instrument for reform of merit and source of leadership in the fight for increased productivity.

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Public Sector Labor Relations

  • Why have the unions been so successful?

  • They have been better politicians than elected political executives.

    • Acceptance of a militant postures arose directly out of civil rights movements and civil disobedience.

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  • The American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations is a voluntary federation of over a hundred national and international labor unions.

    • A union of unions.

  • Created by merger of AFL and CIO in 1955.

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  • Each member union remains autonomous, conducting its own affairs in the manner determined by its own members.

  • Although voluntary, AFL-CIO plays a role in establishing overall labor policy.

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Administrative Agencies

  • In the context of labor relations, an administrative agency is any impartial private or government organization that oversees or facilitates the labor relations process.

  • Generally headed by a board of three to five members.

  • Boards make rulings on unfair labor practices, the appropriateness of bargaining units, the proper interpretation of a contract, or the legitimacy of the scope of bargaining.

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Administrative Agencies

  • Administrative agencies also oversee authorization elections and certify the winners as the exclusive bargaining agents for all of the employees in a bargaining unit.

  • Private sector – National Labor Relations Board (1935).

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Administrative Agencies

  • Federal government – Federal Labor Relations Authority (1978).

  • State government – Public Employment Relations Boards.

  • In the public sector, binding arbitration more likely to be used than strikes.

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Collective Bargaining

  • Collective bargaining is bargaining on behalf of a group of employees as opposed to individual bargaining where each worker only represents him- or herself.

  • Term covers the negotiating process that leads to a contract as well as the subsequent administration and interpretation of the contract.

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Collective Bargaining

  • Four basic stages to collective bargaining.

    • The establishment of organizations for bargaining;

    • The formulation of demands;

    • The negotiation of demands; and

    • The administration of the labor agreement.

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Collective Bargaining

  • The predominant public sector labor relations model comes from the private sector.

  • But the fit far from perfect.

  • The process uses the adversarial model, which assumes that someone must win and someone lose.

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Collective Bargaining

  • Operates on the assumption that the outcome of bargaining will reflect the relative bargaining strength of the two parties.

  • Rules established and enforced by NLRB.

  • Workers retain the right to strike and to bargain as equals with management.

  • Assumes that the free market imposes ultimate harmony of interest. Neither party wants the demise of the employer.

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Collective Bargaining

  • Model problematic for public sector.

    • Unions not the equal of governments.

    • Public sector negotiations must restrict the scope of bargaining.

    • Outcomes not based on relative strengths.

    • Strikes occur for largely political reasons.

    • Public sector fragmented with regard to models of collective bargaining.

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Impasse Resolution

  • An impasse is a condition that exists during labor-management negotiations when either party feels that no further progress can be made toward a settlement.

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Impasse Resolution

  • The most techniques for breaking the impasse are mediation, fact-finding, and arbitration.

  • Mediation or conciliation is any attempt by an impartial third party to help settle disputes.

    • Mediator has no power but persuasion. Conciliation is more passive, mediation more active.

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Impasse Resolution

  • Fact-finding is an impartial review of the issues in a labor dispute by a specially appointed third party, whether a single individual, panel, or board.

    • Fact finder holds formal or informal hearings and submits a report, which may contain recommendations.

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Impasse Resolution

  • Arbitration –method of dispute settlement by having an impartial third party (arbitrator) hold a formal hearing and render a decision that may or may not binding on both parties.

    • Arbitrator may be an individual or uneven numbered board. May contain representatives of disputants.

    • Compulsory arbitration is arbitration under a legal requirement.

    • Final or last offer arbitration.

    • Binding arbitration frequently used in public sector collective bargaining in place of a strike, but can create problems.

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  • A strike is a mutual agreement among workers to a temporary work stoppage to obtain – or to resist – a change in their working conditions.

  • Considered an essential element in the collective bargaining process.

  • The use of strikes has declined. Concerns about impact on unstable economy.

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Why Strikes Occur

  • Workers will not work after a contract has expired.

  • Union leader is often in a complicated political position. Expectation gap.

  • A strike may be used as a political weapon against public officials.

  • Management’s efforts to provoke strikes at a time when unions are relatively weak.

  • Economic positions of the two sides.

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Two Famous Public Strikes

  • Boston police strike of 1919. Higher wages and right to form a union affiliated with AFL. Public opposition to compromising public safety sank the strike and set back public sector unionization.

  • Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (1981). (95% went on strike). Cripple air travel. President Reagan fired all 11,000 controllers. Strike broken by only president who was a labor union leader.