A collective bargaining agreement is a contract between employees and employers. The former referred to as labor and the latter as management. Some of the first of these accords were hammered out between employees and employers in the 1920′s and 1930′s. These are important and hard won agreements, giving labor equality in negotiating with for-profit companies about wages, benefits and working conditions. Collective bargaining was an important step that led to American industrial leadership and prosperity for the rest of the twentieth century.
In private industry there is a clear cut distinction between labor and management. In public employment situations…not so much. For example:
Question: who is the employer?
Answer: Elected government officials – (federal, state and local), and indirectly, the people who voted for the elected government officials and of course the bureaucracy (composed of public union members) that manages the vast government landscape.
Question: Who is the employee?
Answer: Elected government officials – (federal, state or local), and the bureaucracy (composed of public union members) that administers the the various governments agencies.
Question: Who negotiates terms of the collective bargaining agreement?
Answer: The public union members who also vote to elect the government officials negotiate with the elected government officials or administrative representatives of the government officials.
So what we have here is public sector employees bargaining for wages, benefits and working conditions with…wait, wait for it…other public sector employees! Yes! What a deal!
Okay, last question: who said the following (don’t worry it’s a multiple choice question):
“All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress.”
a. Donald Duck
b. Genghis Khan
c. Scott Walker
d. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Okay times up. Pencils down. If you don’t know who said that, look it up.
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