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. Labor relations is the term for all of the interactions between the union leaders (representing the employees) and management (representing the corporation or jurisdiction). 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. 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. The AFL-CIO 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. The AFL-CIO 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. 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. 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). 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Strikes 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. 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. 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.
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