This page includes discussions from 2011 and 2015 regarding public sector unions.
2015: What to do after Friedrichs?
In October, 2015, Bob Bruno sent out the following query regarding the future of public sector unionism after the Supreme Court makes its decision in Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association. Arguments in the case are due in early 2016. The responses to Bob's email are shown below.
One lively exchange about whether and how much to represent non-paying bargaining unit members under Florida's public sector laws is preserved as a discussion, which can be seen under Bob Herbert's email of October 27, which introduces the topic.
Bob Bruno, October 25
Hey Folks – I’ve been asked to give a brief presentation in December on the ”Future of Labor Relations in the Public Sector.” Yea I know … pretty broad. The trigger for this is the Friedrich’s case. My charge is to assume the Court either completely overturns Abood, or tightens allowable bargaining charges or maybe requires an affirmative opt-in to dues withholding. In preparing to do this I have been talking with labor lawyers, union leaders, organizers, colleagues … etc about how unions functions in RTW and RTW-like (i.e., ACT 10) settings. Also, talking with folks in non-RTW states about preparing (or not) for possible change. What works and what doesn’t. What should be done? Members only unionism? Why do unions have a free-rider problem? Why do many not have one? I’m also interested in how unions and labor relations may change in an environment with even more RTW – private and public sector. How for example, would/does not being able to bargain a security clause influence bargaining outcomes? I’m wide open here. Looking for creative insights and ideas. I think this is a great opportunity to engage the UALE community. I’m happy to read and consider either brief entries or longer notes. Not sure whether I’ll end up writing something brief or just collecting some bullet points, but whatever I end up I will share. I’d like to solicit your thoughts via the listserve. I would recommend that people interested in responding do so to the entire list but can also reply just to me. Thanks for considering Bob Bruno
Bill Barry Oct 25 16:42
I have a new book coming out, “Closing Up the Open Shop: A Guide to Internal Organizing”, which assumes that the SuCo will rule against us in the Friedrichs case. It should be ready by December but my emphasis is that if we have an open shop, we have to totally change the culture of a union to begin to think organizationally. There are also chapters on setting up and running campaigns to sign up the non-members, an emphasis on political campaigns and a history of the open shop movement, beginning in 1349. We can overcome, even the not-so-Supreme Court. Bill Barry
Joe Berry Oct 26
Bob and list,
Some ideas (some newish and some hobby horses I have been trying to ride for years, mostly with little to show for it):
1. Look at history of public sector unionism, especially among teachers and, within that, especially in AFT, for precedents in various states before they got public sector bargaining laws passed. Many got bargaining rights (or quasi) through organizing and job actions, or threat thereof. For some reason, national AFT leadership has never been interested in unearthing this very valuable history, but maybe more interested now. I know how valuable it could be because both myself and my father, and literally "thousands of my closest friends” were part of it. This history extended into the 1980’s in some states, like IL. Extreme example is AFT 1600 in Chicago City Colleges which had one of the strongest contracts for FTTT community college faculty in the nation in the 80’s, before the CB law was passed. This is relevant to members only and/or minority union issues as well at RTW and unions without formal legal recognition, as well as fighting for dues checkoff, which is sometime linked with RTW in some public sector contexts.
2. Look at states where substantial union movements have been sustained despite RTW, and, in some cases, bad or no public sector CB laws. These states might include NV, IA, and some others.
3. Look at the postal unions, which have maintained good memberships despite RTW (and no ability to legally strike). Same with Firefighters in public sector RTW states. Some sectors of other federal employment have very high % membership too, various unions there.
4. Look at the cops and prison guards who historically have gotten to high membership %’s. Is there anything useful we can learn from that? (Maybe no since the political context of these unions is so special, (and legitimately debated) but the question should be asked.)
5. Look at the history of “community unionism”, farmworker and sharecropper unionism for precedents. See Rose Feurer on the St Louis case in the 30s-40s, UFW early, CIW today, FLOC, etc.
6. And, of course, look at most pre-1935 (even up to 37 really) unionism, except building trades, which mostly did not have union security agreements, as I recall.
7. Some of the more strategic of the worker centers have been confronting related funding and organizing questions for a few years now and some have done some research and serious discussion that mainstream unions can learn from. I know especially Vermont Workers Center is one that falls into this category and there are probably others. I hope this is helpful. Please do share the compilation of what you assemble from this appeal. We are all going to face this.
Bill Barry Oct 27
As we talk about organizing free riders, it is helpful to look at other organizations who are successful--even if we don't agree with their objectives. Here's a great example, ripped from the headlines in today's Baltimore Sun. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-nra-20151026-story.html
Howard Kling Oct 27 14:27
Howdy, The International Labor Communications Association just held its convention in Raleigh a month ago and the focus was on organizing the south, Forward Together, racism and #BLM, and what we can learn from unions in the south that are operating without many rights. If it would be helpful, Bob, I can give you contact information for the Greensboro Firefighters, the NC IBEW, UE 150 in Durham, IBT 728 in Atlanta who all appear to be doing great work building and maintaining membership and in some cases like UE thinking of a "minority unionism" model. Apparently also AFGE in the Raleigh-Durham area has a good story though I wasn't able to get them involved. I do have contact info for them - and also for a UAW local with good membership numbers as well. Howard
John Kretzschmar Oct 27 16:30
I grew up in Detroit and was a member of LIUNA and the UAW at different parts of my time there. Upon moving to Nebraska in 1976 and helping start the university based program here in 1980 the idea of RTW and how to effectively help union leaders work to build power in this environment has been an ongoing interest. To be clear, leaders who value more than their members' dues work to win the hearts and minds of their members in both kinds of union settings. The attitude that leads to using the term "scab" is found in both settings. Member apathy is likewise universal. So the kind of leadership skills, outlook, and behaviors that we advocate are essential in both settings. I have found that kind of best practice leadership behavior is needed everywhere, but it's welcomed in Nebraska with open arms most of the time. - John
BTW, I coined the term NUBS to avoid the term SCAB. NUBS stands for non-union brothers and sisters. Just that phrase emphasizes the hope and attitude required to win those hearts and minds.
Anneta Argyres 27 Oct 18:11
Thanks for taking this issue on and for opening up this discussion.
As a public sector worker and rank & file officer in my union, one issue that I keep coming back to in discussions about "life after Friedrichs" is the union's continuing obligation to represent all bargaining unit members. While I think there's a great deal we can learn about good organizing models from other types of organizations, many unions will bear the ongoing burden of representational work. So, for me, the case raises the question of how we/unions should do that work.
In my labor education work, I--like many of you--already teach about turning grievances into organizing opportunities, both as a way to develop more leverage to win the grievance and as a way to educate and organize the membership. But, in reality, many (most?) of the grievances that I deal with as a union officer do not lend themselves to organizing, and, in truth, we couldn't organize around all the grievances that we're handling at once because we don't have enough people to do it. In the current environment of increasing legal attacks against unions, I fully expect that if the public sector is forced to go "right to work," we will very quickly see an increase in DFR cases being moved so as to tie up the union's resources even further. What can we do to avoid that, short of spending even more time on individual grievances that--while being important to the defense of the contract and to the protection of workers from often outrageous employers--ultimately don't help build the union?
I'm interested to hear others thoughts on this, and to get to read whatever Bob comes up with!
Gordon Lafer Oct 27, 2015 at 2:21pm
Thanks Anneta - I think this is an important and interesting point. It does seem prudent to prepare for the likelihood that, if there's no fair-share, the anti-union organizations will put money into trolling for DFR cases and prosecuting them as far as possible with the aim of soaking up remaining resources in that. Perhaps there's some way for unions to adopt new and clear guidelines for what cases get what kind of representation - e.g. very clear criteria for what goes to arbitration and what doesn't - so that there's a clearer rationale for cases that are not taken that far, based on written policy, and that won't require as much administrative work to explain the rationale behind each individual case?
Bill Herbert Oct 27, 2015 at 4:27 PM
One response to a constitutional RTW decision in Friedrichs would be to seek to use Florida's RTW public sector model where public sector unions are not required by statute to represent unit members who are not union members (but still must collectively bargain on behalf of the entire unit)
447.401 Grievance procedures.—Each public employer and bargaining agent shall negotiate a grievance procedure to be used for the settlement of disputes between employer and employee, or group of employees, involving the interpretation or application of a collective bargaining agreement. Such grievance procedure shall have as its terminal step a final and binding disposition by an impartial neutral, mutually selected by the parties; however, when the issue under appeal is an allegation of abuse, abandonment, or neglect by an employee under s. 39.201 or s. 415.1034, the grievance may not be decided until the abuse, abandonment, or neglect of a child has been judicially determined. However, an arbiter or other neutral shall not have the power to add to, subtract from, modify, or alter the terms of a collective bargaining agreement. If an employee organization is certified as the bargaining agent of a unit, the grievance procedure then in existence may be the subject of collective bargaining, and any agreement which is reached shall supersede the previously existing procedure. All public employees shall have the right to a fair and equitable grievance procedure administered without regard to membership or nonmembership in any organization, except that certified employee organizations shall not be required to process grievances for employees who are not members of the organization. A career service employee shall have the option of utilizing the civil service appeal procedure, an unfair labor practice procedure, or a grievance procedure established under this section, but such employee is precluded from availing himself or herself to more than one of these procedures.
The statute has been interpreted by Florida PERC to not require representation for any issue that arose prior to an employee becoming a member of the public sector union.
Ruth Needleman October 28, 2015 1:11 PM
The Florida law actually makes non union workers pay for representation. That is a model sort of but we might want to look more and more toward the not-union labor movements that are not bound by the NLRB. Years ago the AFL_CIO toyed with the idea that we’d be better off with the “law of the jungle” rather than be bound by narrowing existing legislation. Ruth
Bruce Nissen Oct 28 1:03
The point about the Florida law is stated in a confusing manner, and is not quite accurate.
What the Florida law says is typical "right to work", with a wrinkle. "Free riders" covered by a union contract do not have to pay union dues and also do not have to pay agency fees. They don't have to pay anybody anything, and they are covered by the union contract.
So, to the extent that the union has to "represent" free riders by bargaining a union contract for them, to that extent they must represent them. But, the law also says that the union is not legally required to handle grievances for non-members under the contract. As a matter of policy, some unions do handle their grievances and do "represent" them in this way, and some do not. Our union, the United Faculty of Florida, used to handle grievances for everybody, member and non-member alike. A few years ago, we switched policy, and in general, we do not handle grievances for non-members (perhaps we will in extreme cases, where a "principle" that could really harm everybody is violated, but this is rare.)
So, at the present time, a non-member could handle their own grievances (and never pay any money to anybody), or they could get a fellow faculty member to represent them, or they could go hire a lawyer to represent them. But generally speaking, we at the UFF won't. In the past we did; it is a matter of union policy whether it will or will not handle grievances for non-members.
In actual practice, we've found our newer policy of NOT handling grievances for non-members to be better. It has resulted in an increase in union density by prodding a number of would-be free riders to pay their dues. And it has considerably increased satisfaction with our union from our members, because they no longer resent us giving grievance representation to people they often consider the equivalent of scabs. So, I don't think we'll ever go back to the old system of handling grievances for everybody.
William Barry 10/28/2015 4:46 PM,
I do not agree that not representing non-members is a good strategy. A grievance is a defense of the contract, and of the next worker, not just the current grievant. I have seen companies like GE specifically drop discipline on a non-member as part of a scheme to implement without negotiations some new policy (attendance in this case). The boss hopes that because the discipline is forced on a non-member, the union will let it slide and that in the next case, when a member is disciplined, for example, the HR person will proclaim "Why are you grieving this now? You didn't object before." and the grievance becomes tougher to win.
Better to use a grievance as an opportunity to sign up the non-members (or whatever you want to call 'em).
Bruce Nissen October 28, 2015 9:45
Bill, your argument is exactly one of the main ones used when we debated this issue for two years running. But the way our union handles issues is if it's something that the specifics of the case turn into a matter of "principle" (as the case you mentioned does), we take it up, although probably take it up as a "chapter grievance" in the name of the entire campus chapter. And we handle the case. But, truth be told, in practice we've found that the vast majority of potential grievances are so individual in their specifics and their import that we don't take them up. If the case is lost in such a case, we do not lose our protection of our members in future cases. I was torn over the issue at the time, but in retrospect I now firmly believe our new position is the best one. I can't think of one matter of principle that we have lost because of it, and we very clearly have gained in many ways, including higher union density and less internal animosity at the union for wasting union dues on free riders (who, being unprincipled, get into trouble more frequently than do dues paying members and hence drain more of our monetary resources than members do) and a much clearer demarcation between union and non-union (with "union" being the preferable position).
William Barry October 29, 2015 10:17 AM
Thanks, Bruce. Well-considered answer, especially since you have constant experience in dealing with such grievances in a state like Florida.
Can you demonstrate that "free riders (being unprincipled get into trouble more frequently than do dues paying members. . .?
No need to prove they are "unprincipled," but do they have more disputes?
Bruce Nissen Oct 29, 10:24a
This is just anecdotal, but that's been our experience at my chapter of the UFF, and from the things I hear in talking with grievance reps at other campuses, that's my impression. This could be only my own biases and prejudices, but it seems that individuals who are prone to shirk their duty in one way and cut corners, do so in other ways too. I find it's the same way with corporations too: a scofflaw in one way is frequently a scofflaw in other ways too.
Not scientific. Just my impression.
William Barry Oct 29, 2015, at 11:53 AM,
Bruce--Gotta say that this attitude may not be helpful in reaching the goal of 100% membership. You should know, as part of the internal organizing campaign, why each of the non-members won't join, and then you can say (as a historian you know this) with some factual basis, what they do what they do. One of the biggest obstacles to internal organizing are the prejudices against non-members that only reinforce the stereotypes, to them and the national RTW Committee, of union members.
Bruce Nissen Oct 29 12:56
I guess I'm not clear enough. I'm very, very far from thinking that non-members, just because they are non-members, are unethical or untrustworthy. In fact, I'm constantly telling others that we need to be just as respectful of non-members as we are members. Some go from being non-members to being our best leaders.
So, let me try to be more precise. There are a certain number of people (my own rough estimate on my campus: about 1-3%) who are unethical. They pull all sorts of things. It's just that one of the many things they try to pull is that they also want to "free ride." Those are the people who can consume enormous time defending, if we the union defend them. In doing so, we get both a black eye with our members, and an enormous depletion of our treasury.
That's who I'm referring to -- not all non-members. It's an extremely small sub-set of non-members. But, yes, I do have a bad attitude toward that small sub-set. I do not have a bad attitude toward all non-members. I've even engaged non-members in union activities on issues of importance to them; when they work side by side by union members on solving problems, they often come to our side and see the value of our "collective voice", the union.
But I will admit I know a person or two whom I really have no desire to get into the union. They're the ones who get in trouble all the time too.
E Dannin Oct 28, 5:13 PM
The string of discussion here raises the issue of reconsidering the value of the NLRA and the wisdom of its drafters. The basics of the original NLRA - not the one that the judges have "judicially amended" to weaken the NLRA - is a sound law, and I would invite everyone to take a look at it again.
Right now, the NLRA is more or less in the situation of someone who has been beaten up and badly bruised. What we need is to bring it back to health.
My book, "Taking Back the Workers' Law - How to Fight the Assault on the NLRA" lays out a strategy for repealing the judicial amendments. It borrows liberally from the NAACP's ideas about overturning bad laws.
A bit more than a year ago, Prof. Ann Hodges and I, put together a series that laid out how the NLRA has been attacked, staring within a short time from the NLRA's enactment.
Here is the first part.
E Dannin Oct 28, 5:53 PM
Here is the list of the 20 Truthout stories Prof. Ann C. Hodges and I wrote on the "judicial amendment" process - with links. Each of these stories explains how those who oppose union and worker rights have managed to "judicially amend" the law to weaken the law. In fact, this problem has turned up in other areas. There is no employment law that has not suffered from the judicial amendment process, whose purpose is to weaken worker rights. The attackers clearly follow the golden rule -- He who has the gold makes the rules. The “Judicial Amendment” Project by Ann C. Hodges and Ellen Dannin Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.
- Why the National Labor Relations Act Is a Weak Law Today - and How We Can Restore its Power 28 March 2013 http://truth-out.org/news/item/15368
- Judicial Amendments and the Attack on Worker Rights 4 April 2013 http://truth-out.org/news/item/15400
- Solidarity NOT Forever: How the Supreme Court Kicked Retirees Into the Gutter 11 April 2013 http://truth-out.org/news/item/15664
- Strike and You’re Out: The Supreme Court’s Destruction of the Right to Strike April 2013 http://truth-out.org/news/item/15913
- A Strike is a Strike and Only a Strike http://truth-out.org/news/item/16236-a-strike-is-a-strike-and-only-a-strike
- At an Impasse: Collective Bargaining Under the Judicial Amendments http://truth-out.org/news/item/16394
- The Supreme Court Empowers Employers to Lock Out Workers http://truth-out.org/news/item/16531
- The Judicial Amendments’ 1-2-3-4 Punch to Collective Bargaining - Putting Together the Judicial Amendments of Striker Replacement, Lockouts, and Employers Implementing Their “Bargaining” Proposals http://www.acslaw.org/acsblog/nlrb-decision-limiting-class-action-waivers-based-on-longstanding-precedent
- Extra! Extra! Rich Corp Execs Shut Down the NLRB! Then and Now http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/16794-extra-extra-rich-corp-execs-shut-down-the-nlrb-then-and-now
- The Dues and Don'ts of Union Dues http://truth-out.org/news/item/16935-the-dues-and-donts-of-union-dues
- Union Dues and Don'ts: How Conservative Interest Groups Are Reducing Unions' Financial Resources http://truth-out.org/news/item/16935-the-dues-and-donts-of-union-dues
- Lechmere: The Employer's "Right" to Keep Employees Isolated and Uninformed http://truth-out.org/news/item/17225-lechmere-the-employers-right-to-keep-employees-isolated-and-uninformed#startOfPageId17225
- Turning the NLRA into Groundhog Day, the Movie, July 18, 2013 http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/17635-turning-the-nlra-into-groundhog-day-the-movie
- Judicially Amended “Remedies” Fail to Promote Purposes of NLRA, July 25, 2013 http://truth-out.org/news/item/17706-judicially-amended-remedies-fail-to-promote-purposes-of-nlra?tsk=adminpreview
- What Ifs? The Sad Tale of Darlington Mills, August 1, 2013 http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/17790-what-ifs-the-sad-tale-of-darlington-mills#
- Judges’ “Mitigation of Damages” Doctrine Harms Injured Employees, August 8, 2013 http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/17898-judges-mitigation-of-damages-doctrine-harms-injured-employees
- Worker "Disloyalty" Leads to Discharge; Employer Disloyalty Is Good for Business Monday, 19 August 2013 http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/18273-employee-disloyalty-leads-to-discharge-employer-disloyalty-is-good-for-business
- The So-Called Strict Constructionist Justices - Lessons from Hoffman Plastics Thursday, 5 September 2013 http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/18296-the-so-called-strict-constructionist-justices-lessons-from-hoffman-plastics
- DH Horton and Mutual Aid – NLRB Decision Limiting Class Action Waivers Based on Longstanding Precedent http://www.acslaw.org/acsblog/nlrb-decision-limiting-class-action-waivers-based-on-longstanding-precedent
- Employers on the Public's Dime: The Judicial Amendment that Put Money in the Company's Pocket, 22 August 2013 http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/18202-18-employers-on-the-publics-dime-%E2%80%93-the-judicial-amendment-that-put-money-in-the-companys-pocket?tsk=adminpreview
Gene Carroll Oct 30 9:14
Bob, I teach a labor history class one night a week of rank-and file-public sector workers called the History of Public Sector Unions. It is one of the offerings of the Cornell-CUNY Labor Relations Certificate Program, which is the formal name of the labor studies partnership program established eight or nine years ago between Cornell ILR (now the Worker Institute at Cornell) and the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Joseph S. Murphy Labor Institute. Attached is the syllabus for my class. I’ve included a references section on public sector unionism that may be helpful to you. The public sector unions in New York, as you might suspect, are deeply concerned about the consequences of a Friedrich’s decision that would overturn Abood and eliminate fair-share fees. (As a member of the Professional Staff Congress – AFT Local 2334 it certainly has my attention!) One example of preparing for the worst (there’s a few others in NY that I know about) is an internal organizing program at AFSCME District Council 37. They’ve had some success converting fee payers into membership-dues payers. You might want to contact DC 37’s organizing office at 212-815-1000 and www.districtcouncil37.com . You may have already see this but about ten days ago the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) released a terrific and timely new briefing paper #408: Eliminating Fair-Share Fees and Making Public Employment “Right-to-Work” Would Increase the Pay Penalty for Working in State and Local Government (by Jeffrey H. Keefe). Visit <http://www.epi.org/publication/eliminating-fair-share-fees-and-making-public-employment-right-to-work-would-increase-the-pay-penalty-for-working-in-state-and-local-government/> I trust at least some of this information will be helpful and I am open to some discussion about its contents and the questions you may want to examine in December at the forum at which you will be making a presentation on the “Future of Labor Relations in the Public Sector?” By the way, where and when precisely is this forum taking place? Who is sponsoring it? Best wishes to you in your efforts.
Gene Gene Carroll
The Worker Institute at Cornell
Elissa McBridge Oct 30 15:46
UALE colleagues: A good piece on the agenda behind the attack on fair share in the public sector. http://prospect.org/article/whos-behind-friedrichs The American Prospect - "Who's Behind Friedrichs?" By Adele M. Stan October 29, 2015
Hey Folks just want to take a minute and say I appreciate the reflections. They are very helpful. I am also interested in continuing this conversation at UALE this spring. So I'm willing to arrange/chair a session on this subject. Anyone with a desire to participate as a panelist please let me know. Any creative ideas for formats is also welcome. Maybe in the form of a debate with a proposition and pro-con side? All are welcome Thanks and please keep the conversation going. Bob
2011: Responses to Events in Wisconsin
Currents events in Wisconsin and elsewhere have unleashed a torrent of writings, interviews and the like from UALE members on this subject. Those that have been brought to our attention are being added in below. If you have something you'd like to add, please bring it to our attention (post it to the UALE email list).
The following links and downloads were contributed by UALE email list members in response to a request for materials that counter current negative public discourse about public sector workes and their unions.
Posts from the frontlines in Madison, WI.
Submitted by: Don Taylor, UW School for Workers, Madison, WI
Date: March 9, 2011
Description: Don has kept us current with multiple posts and links from the frontlines.
We have reached a turning point
Submitted by:Frank Emspak
Date: March 10, 2011
Description: Frank Emspak is interview in Democracy Now.
Submitted by: Kim Scipes
Date: March 6, 2011
Description: This video shows speakers from the Iraq Veterans Against the War, speaking on February 26, 2011, in solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin!
The IVAW members do something that there hasn't been enough of, in my opinion: tying the assault on workers and social services to the war and the US Empire. [The US spends more EACH YEAR on military-related issues than do our 14 closes military "competitors" COMBINED. The money spent on the military is money that cannot be spent on education, health care, rebuilding the infrastructure, high speed rail, addressing climate change (aka global warming), etc.]We can have Empire, and try to rule the world (and we'll take your sons and daughters into the military, the only large scale jobs program existing today in the US) or we can take care of our people: we cannot do both!
Solidarity forever, domination never!
Submitted by:Mike Konopacki
Date: March 5, 2011
Description: A fine article by Milwaukee historian John Gurda
Submitted by: Paul Clark, Penn State
Date: March 5, 2011
Description: I had an op-ed on Public Sector Bargaining published in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette today. Thought it might be of interest.
Submitted by: Steven Pitts, UCB, blogger for the AFL-CIO
Date: February 22, 2011
Description: Attack on Public Employees Deals a Sharp Blow to Blacks
Submitted by: Betsy Leondar-Wright, Class Action
Date: February 22, 2011
Description: Author activist Bill Fletcher Jr. gives us the background of the struggle and points to social justice unionism as a way out in “Modern-day Pirates: the Republicans vs. the Public Sector”
Submitted by: Betsy Leondar-Wright, Class Action
Date: February 22, 2011
Description: In “Caregiver Unions: Needed but Vulnerable,” labor journalist Steve Early recounts the rapid rise of unions representing home health care aides and child care workers, and what they’re up against now.
Submitted by: Betsy Leondar-Wright, Class Action
Date: February 22, 2011
Description: In “Who Gets Plowed in New York,” Class Action workshop facilitator Nicole Brown focuses in on classist decisions made by the city’s leadership, and of the misplaced blame placed on sanitation workers.
Growing public sector unions present an inviting target for the right-wing, neo-liberal onslaught, but they provide the services, from fire protection to child care, that we all need. The Wisconsin mobilization provides a model for state-wide and national pushback.
Submitted by: John Beck, MSU
Date: February 22, 2011
Description: For the newer “Right to Work Zone” bill.
Submitted by: Fred Lonidier, UCSD
Date: February 22, 2011
Description: Wisconsin South Central Federation Of Labor Endorses General Strike If Gov Walker Signs Anti-Labor Bill.
GENERAL STRIKE ENDORSEMENT: At SCFL's monthly meeting Monday, Feb. 21, delegates endorsed the following: "The SCFL endorses a general strike, possibly for the day Walker signs his 'budget repair bill.'" An ad hoc committee was formed to explore the details. SCFL did not CALL for a general strike because it does not have that authority.
Also passed was the following motion: "The SCFL goes on record as opposing all provisions contained in Walker's 'budget repair bill,' including but not limited to, curtailed bargaining rights and reduced wages, benefits, pensions, funding for public education, changes to medical assistance programs, and politicization of state government agencies."
Submitted by: Beth Almeida, National Institute on Retirement Security
Date: February 22, 2011
Description: Our organization recently teamed up the Center for State and Local Government Excellence to commission a report on public-vs private sector compensation. The results show that, contrary to some of the assertions being made in the editorial pages, state and local workers are paid less than their private-sector counterparts. Even after counting the value of fringe benefits (that are somewhat more generous in the public sector), a gap remains. The full report is titled "Out of Balance? Comparing Public and Private Sector Compensation over 20 Years."
If you are looking for information on public pensions, our Public Pension Resource Guide contains a series of fact sheets, literature reviews, and other materials, which might be helpful educational tools. www.nirsonline.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=338&Itemid=116 .
The Center for Economic and Policy Research also published (May 2010) an excellent analysis of this issue, "The Wage Penalty for State and Local Government Employees".
See also "The Benefits of State and Local Government Employees", published at the same time.
In the Public Interest.org
Submitted by: Ellen Dannin, Penn State Dickinson School of Law
Date: February 22, 2011
Description: A helpful site that is focused on privatization. (Be careful; the Chamber of Commerce has a similarly titled website, but it ends in ".com").
The Center for State and Local Government Excellence & Mother Jones & Record gap between public and private sector pay
Submitted by: Ellen Dannin, Penn State Dickinson School of Law
Description: On the issue of bloated public sector salaries and benefits, the first two links are articles about the NIRS study above, "Out of Balance". The third link shows that the same thing is happening in the UK.
Submitted by: Cam Duncan, Southwest Organizing School
Description: A good place to find articles, curricula, campaign materials and web page links to public sector unions globally.
Another good source: the PSI Research Unit has lots of pro-union, pro-consumer research reports on privatization and public service/workers, focusing on multinationals in water, energy, waste management and health care - most of them freely available.
Fight for California's Future
Submitted by: Fred Glass, California Federation of Teachers, Oakland
Description: On the California Federation of Teachers' website there is a page on our open-ended campaign. If you scroll to the bottom of the page, there is a link to resources, including brochures, pamphlets, comic books and a slideshow. These materials analyze the state budget crisis, put it in the context of a conservative assault on government, taxes, unions, and public employees, and propose fair progressive tax policies as the alternative to slow (in some states, rapid) death. The pamphlet "Talking Taxes" is the most analytic and programmatic. The Fight for California's Future page also links to a report on the conclusion of our recent 48-day March for California's Future.
Submitted by: Mike Grunko, SEIU 509
Description: "The War on Public Workers", by Amy Traub in The Nation provides a clear analysis of why the right wing is waging such a vicious attack on public employees. "By attacking public workers, they can demonize "big labor" and "big government" at the same time, while deflecting attention from the more logical target of Middle America's rage: the irresponsible Wall Street traders, whose risky, high-profit business practices brought down the economy, and the lax regulators who let them get away with it...At its heart, the scapegoating of public employees is an insidious way to divide public and private sector workers who share many of the same interests..."
Submitted by: Michelle Kaminski, Michigan State U
Description: Public sector workers have been the target of much undeserved criticism lately. Just like UAW members were blamed for the auto industry crisis, government workers have also become scapegoats. This just keeps the focus off the real culprits–capitalist elites who are steadily increasing their share of the pie, at the expense of working people.
One (of many) reasons why they've been so successful is the right-wing media's vilification of government, workers, and unions. But you can find other voices, even in the mainstream media. NPR's Talk of the Nation featured a half-hour segment, "What it's like to be a government worker", that had public sector workers from around the nation call in to describe what their jobs are like and how they are affected by the widespread mistrust of government. (No mention of unions, however.)
Submitted by: Fred Lonidier, University of California, San Diego
Description: "Education is a Public Good" Statement from the UCSD Faculty Coalition
Are New Jersey Public Employees Overpaid?
Submitted by: Donna Schulman, Rutgers
Description: My SMLR colleague, Jeff Keefe, has crunched the numbers and proved that public sector NJ workers are NOT overpaid. Also, "public employees, particularly higher level professional employees, have fewer opportunities to work overtime than those who work in the private sector. Therefore, on an annual basis, full-time state and local employees are under-compensated by 5.88% in New Jersey, in comparison to otherwise similar private-sector workers."
Jeffrey H. Keefe, Economic Policy Institute Briefing Paper #270, July 30, 2010.
Submitted by: Beth Vernaci, AFSCME
Description: I maintain a blog that collects information useful to public sector workers. We add new reports and articles almost daily.