Beginning in December 2010, a virtual tsunami of legislative change hit public sector labor law. The change was fueled by a view that public employee unions were exercising outsized power and a privileged position of exclusive access to public decision-makers to extract excessive wages and benefits, protect employees who were poor performers, stifle incentive to excel and stifle innovation. This article evaluates these reforms which increased public employer power to act unilaterally in light of my prior work on collective representation of public employees. That prior work focused on how public sector labor law doctrine channels union representation into narrow areas of bread and butter issues and protection of employees from the effects of decisions made unilaterally by management and calls for reforms that provide workers with a voice, and hence a reason to invest in, the success of the public sector enterprise. The current article finds that the reforms blown in by the recent tsunami are doomed to failure. Rather than increase employer unilateralism, we need to increase worker involvement to improve public services. The article examines reforms in Indiana and Tennessee which, on their face, appear promising in this regard, and finds them to be largely illusory. It concludes by looking at a few glimmers of hope, coming from Ohio, Illinois and a joint task force of the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of School Administrators.
Martin H. Malin,
Sifting Through the Wreckage of the Tsunami that Hit Public Sector Collective Bargaining,
Available at: http://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/fac_schol/744