State employee bargaining: policy and organization Essay

State employee bargaining: policy and organization At least 35 State governments engage in some type of labornegotiations with their employees, according to a survey conductedduring the 1981-83 period by the Industrial Relations Center at theUniversity of Hawaii at Manoa.

A majority have formal negotiations;others have some type of “meet and confer’ procedure. States which engage in formal negotiations have bargaining unitsreflecting the history of organizing and negotiation activities in therespective States. The larger groups of organized State employees arein administrative/clerical, corrections, engineering/science, hospital,maintenance/ trades, and public welfare occupations. Some professionalemployees–dentists, lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers, andadministrators–also are in bargaining units. The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is the major State employee union, representing 44 percent ofthe more than 943,000 covered employees in the survey. State employeeassociations represent about 75,000, or 18 percent of the employees, butthe employee associations are affiliating with other unions, the mostrecent being the affiliation of the California State Employees’Association with the Service Employees International Union (AFL-CIO).

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In the fall of 1981, a questionnaire was sent to the boardresponsible for collective bargaining procedures or the agency involvedin personnel administration in each of the 50 State governments. By thefall of 1983, responses had been received from all States except NewMexico. The questionnaire was designed to identify States according tothe extent of employee bargaining activity and to obtain basic data fora study of the characteristics of such activity. Questions were askedabout State labor relations policy, organization of the administeringagency, unit determination, and impasse resolution procedures. Thissummary discusses information related to policy and unit determination.

Labor relations policy Collective bargaining occurs in 27 State governments and, in mostinstances, is authorized by law. (See table 1.) State employeecollective bargaining is now authorized in Illinois by the Public LaborRelations Act (which became effective on July 1, 1984) and by theEducation Labor Relations Act (effective January 1, 1984), and in Ohiowith the enactment of a comprehensive statute (effective April 1, 1984).Informal consultations with no written agreements take place in fourStates–Utah, Indiana, Nevada, and Wyoming. In Utah, the Stateconstitution1 and attorney general opinion are the legal basis for suchinformal consultation. The other three States report no legal basis fortheir policies. “Meet and confer’ discussions with mutualunderstandings outlined in a memorandum of understanding occur inAlabama. Informal negotiations with written memorandum of understandingare authorized by State law and attorney general opinion in NorthDakota.

North Dakota also confers exclusive recognition status tounions for the purpose of informal negotiations. In Maryland andMissouri, informal “meet and confer’ sessions are authorizedby law. Such discussions are held between the Governor and the employeeorganizations in Maryland.

Five States–Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, andTexas–report that State employees had “no bargaining rights.’There was no legal basis in Arkansas for this policy. Mississippireported “there is no State legislation relative to collectivebargaining in the public sector.’ Oklahoma and South Carolinareplied that State employees were not among employees permitted tobargain, with South Carolina noting attorney general opinions and courtrulings as the legal basis for not bargaining. Oklahoma did not providethe legal basis for the State policy. Texas reported that the”employer [is] not required to meet with employee groups, except toaccept their grievances.’ Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, and West Virginia reportedsimply that “bargaining does not occur.

‘ Georgia indicatedonly that “State employees are prohibited from striking–there areno unions or Board [Public Employee Relations Board],’ without anyreference to collective bargaining. Kentucky said that “employeeshave the right to collectively bargain, but [the] State isn’tmandated to recognize. Bargaining does not occur.

‘ Citations toState law and an attorney general opinion were given as the legal basisfor this policy. Collective bargaining is prohibited in four States–by law in NorthCarolina and Colorado, by attorney general opinion in Tennessee, and bycourt ruling in Virginia. Thus, while the policy and practices vary among States, some kindof negotiating activity–collective bargaining, meet and confer,consultation, or other mechanism–occurs in at least 35 States. Bargaining units More than 943,000 State employees are included in at least 470bargaining units, according to responses from 27 States.

(See table 1.)Most (90 percent) of these employees are concentrated in 15 States. TheState of New York employs some 161,000, or 17 percent; California hasapproximately 130,000, or 14 percent.

As a group, bargaining units carved along occupational lines (forexample, nurses, teachers, guards) are found more frequently than unitsdrawn along functional or departmental lines. Such occupational unitsare represented by unions or associations that limit membershipaccording to a specific occupation or profession. For example,affiliates of the American Nurses Association represent 13 of the 15units of nurses reported in this survey. However, there are certaingroups of employees who, although organized in their own units, havechosen to be represented by broad-based unions, such as AFSCME. States permitting collective bargaining generally have theappropriate bargaining units determined by Public Employee RelationsBoards, other government agencies, or State officials. In Hawaii,Minnesota, and Wisconsin, bargaining units are set forth in thecollective bargaining statutes; in Florida, they are established byrules promulgated by the Public Employees Relations Commission.

InCalifornia, there are 46 potential units. The Public EmploymentRelations Board has carved 20 units for employees covered by the StateEmployer-Employee Relations Act; 17 units for the University ofCalifornia system, and 9 units for the California State Universitysystem under the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act. (Atthe time of the survey, only 9 higher education units had exclusiverepresentatives certified for representation purposes.) InMassachusetts, the Labor Relations Commission has established 10statewide units of “nonprofessional’ and professionalemployees, and 28 higher education units. Eight additional units (whichcover State police, metropolitan district commission police, judiciary,and lottery commission employees) are set by statute. The number of bargaining units ranges from two in New Hampshire to51 in Washington; 13 States reported fewer than 15 units. The averagenumber of units is 18. States tend to have relatively few units whenemployees are organized by occupation on a statewide basis, as is thecase in Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, New York, and Vermont (each ofthese States has 10 or fewer units).

Other States (Minnesota with 16statewide units and Hawaii and Wisconsin with 12 each) carve outadditional units by separating subgroups of professional employees andestablishing units for supervisory employees. The case of Ohio is unusual. Prior to the 1983 passage of thecollective bargaining law, the State had negotiated agreements with anumber of employee organizations. However, the bargaining agent wasrecognized “based on a percentage of showing of interest determinedby the appointing authority of each state agency evidenced by duespayment to an employee organization.

Generally, employee organizationswere granted the right to negotiate a contract when twenty (20) percentto thirty (30) percent of the total number of employees paid dues to anemployee organization. . . . Therefore, recognition was granted basedon this showing of interest and not through representationelections.’ It was also explained that Ohio had “agreements which do notdefine the bargaining unit.

In these instances, all dues-payingemployees of an agency constitute the bargaining unit.’ Presently,the law authorizes the Ohio Public Employment Relations Board todetermine the appropriate unit. Excluded employees Information on types of employees excluded from bargaining wasprovided by the 27 States with collective bargaining activities. (Seetable 1.) Only one State, Louisiana, extends bargaining to allemployees, stating “no State employee groups are excluded fromappropriate bargaining units.

‘ Managerial employees andconfidential employees (generally those who have access to confidentialinformation, or who participate in negotiating on behalf of theemployer) are most often excluded (20 States), followed by elected andappointed officials (11) and supervisory employees (9). Among the collective bargaining units in Alaska is a unit ofconfidential employees, who are defined as “classified employees ofthe Executive Branch who “assist or act in a confidential capacityto a person who formulates, determines, and effectuates managementpolicies in the area of collective bargaining’.’ Ohiogenerally included supervisors in the bargaining units if they paid duesto an employee organization.

However, some agreements in Ohio definedthe bargaining unit to exclude supervisory, confidential, andmanagement-level employees. Practice varies in terms of coverage of supervisory employees underthe bagaining laws. Supervisors are included in the same bargainingunit with nonsupervisory employees in Connecticut, Louisiana, and NewYork. Two broad supervisory units are set forth by law in Hawaii, butsome units combine supervisory and nonsupervisory employees. InDelaware and Washington, most supervisors, if organized, are in unitswith other employees, although this practice may vary.

Separatesupervisory units are called for under the laws of Alaska, California,Florida, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey,Pennsylvania, and Vermont. In Alaska, however, the law grandfathersunits that combined nonsupervisory and supervisory employees prior tothe enactment of the Public Employment Relations Act. In Florida, onlythe health care unit includes both supervisors and nonsupervisors,according to rules of the Public Employees Relations Commission. In NewJersey, the Public Employment Relations Commission is authorized toallow a bargaining unit made up of supervisory and nonsupervisoryemployees under special limited circumstances. Under the Pennsylvanialaw, supervisors are granted meet and discuss rights only. Supervisoryemployees in Michigan have only limited recognition rights.

Bargaining organizations Unions enjoying exclusive representation rights in each of theStates range in number from one (Louisiana) to 20 (Rhode Island).Washington has 51 bargaining units, but only eight unions are involved. Affiliates of AFSCME are found in 24 States in the survey. Incontrast, State employee associations, are recognized in 13(2) of the 26States providing union representation information, and representapproximately 18 percent of the employees included in the survey. (InJanuary 1984, the California State Employees’ Association, withcurrent membership of approximately 90,000, announced it would affiliatewith the Service Employees International Union, thus reducing thepercentage of employees in the survey represented by employeeassociations to 8 percent.

) A number of private sector unions hold exclusive representationrights among certain groups of State public employees. For example, theCommunications Workers of America represents the largest number ofemployees, 42,313, in six units in New Jersey and one unit inCalifornia. The Service Employees International Union represents morethan 34,000 employees in Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon,and Pennsylvania. Other private sector unions representing Stateemployees include the International Federation of Professional andTechnical Engineers (six units with 9,000 employees in New Jersey andWashington), the Retail Clerks (four units with 3,380 employees inMontana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Washington), and the Teamsters (11units with 9,000 employees in Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota,Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington). At least 19 other privatesector unions are represented in the survey. In representing State government employees, the private sectorunions follow jurisdictional lines in most cases (that is, the Painters,Electricians, and Machinist unions represent craft employees, and thePlant Guard Workers represent security employees). There are, however,variations.

For example, the Teamsters union, which has primaryinterest in “transportation, warehousing, and the manufacture,processing, sale, and distribution of food, milk, and dairyproducts,’3 claims among its members a unit of universityadministrative employees in Minnesota. The Communications Workers ofAmerica, which began as a union of telephone employees,4 representsState administrative, clerical, professional, and supervisory employeesand psychiatric technicians. Until 1981, four of the six CWA units inNew Jersey were jointly represented by the Civil Service Association andthe State Employee Association. By occupation. Nearly 75,000 education employees in 21 States arerepresented by the American Federation of Teachers, National EducationAssociation, American Association of University Professors, and othereducation employee organizations. These employees include bothinstructional and noninstructional professional personnel ininstitutions of higher education, community colleges,vocational-technical schools, schools for the blind and the deaf, andschools in correctional departments and hospitals. Affiliates of theAmerican Federation of Teachers and the National Education Associationrepresent the largest numbers of employees, approximately 28,700 and28,300, respectively, followed by the American Association of UniversityProfessors with approximately 7,750.

Three additional units in Hawaiiand Pennsylvania, totaling 7,770 faculty members, are representedjointly by the American Association of University Professors/NationalEducation Association, and American Association of UniversityProfessors/American Federation of Teachers. Nonteacher organizationssuch as the California State Employees’ Association, CaliforniaFederation of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists, StatewideUniversity Police Association, Nebraska Association of Public Employees,and AFSCME represent an additional 51 units consisting of 24,000employees in education institutions; the majority (22,700) arenoninstructional, nonprofessional employees. Affiliates of the American Nurses Association represent 13 unitscomprising more than 12,700 nurses in Delaware, Florida, Illinois,Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington.Two units, together covering more than 2,400 registered nurses, arerepresented by the California State Employees’ Association and theHawaii Government Employees Association.

In addition, a bargaining unitof 2,000 professional health care employees in Connecticut isrepresented by the N.E. Health Care Employees, District 1199, and aunit of 1,100 patient care employees in Wisconsin is represented by theUnited Professionals for Quality Health Care.

More than 20,700 State troopers and police were organized in 15States. The Policemen’s Benevolent Association is by far thelargest, representing nearly 8,000 employees in Florida, New Jersey, andNew York. The Fraternal Order of Police represents six units totaling760 employees in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Other policeand State trooper organizations, representing more than 12,000 members,include the Alaska Public Safety Employees Association, CaliforniaAssociation of Highway Patrolmen, Connecticut State Police Union, IowaState Police Officers’ Council, Kansas Troopers Association, MaineState Troopers Association, State Police Association of Massachusetts,Michigan State Police Troopers Association, Minnesota State Patrol Troopers Association, the State Troopers Fraternal Association of NewJersey, Inc., and the State Troopers Noncommissioned OfficersAssociation of New Jersey, Inc. The Vermont State Employees Associationrepresents a unit of State police officers in that State.

Some observations The survey results presented here provide the basis for somegeneral observations concerning characteristics of State governmentemployee bargaining: the existence of a bargaining statute determinesthe bargaining unit coverage, but it may not be determinative of theextent of organization in terms of organized employees; and the extentof organization in the nonagriculture sector appears to influence theorganization of State employees, although in States in which collectivebargaining is authorized by law, the proportion of organized workers islarger in State government than in private nonagriculture industries.(See table 2.) The findings reveal State government bargaining characteristicswhich are not entirely like those that describe the private sector. Thisleads to questions which require further investigation. What factorsother than the existence of a bargaining statute influence or promoteorganization of State employees? Does the existence of a merit system affect the development of a State’s labor relations policy andorganization of employees? Are there differences in the bargainingoutcomes developing out of State government bargaining? It may be thatthe perceived differences are only minor variations; but without furtherexamination, it is not clear whether they reflect the environment uniqueto State government and the individual States. FOOTNOTES ACKNOWLEDGMENT: The authors thank Professor James L.

Stern,University of Wisconsin-Madison for comments and suggestions. 1 According to the Utah respondent, the prohibition of collectivebargaining by State Constitution is found in Utah Code Annotated, Secs.34-34-1 to 34-34-17 (Utah’s right-to-work law). 2 The States are Alaska, California, Connecticut, Illinois,Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota,Vermont, and Washington. 3 See Jack Stieber, Public Employee Unionism: Structure, Growth,Policy (Washington, The Brookings Institution, 1973), p. 5. 4 See Jack Barbash, Unions and Telephones (New York, Harper &Row, 1952).

Table: 1. State government employees in bargaining units in statesin which collective bargaining is authorized, 1981-83 Table: 2. Percent of organized full-time employees in Stategovernment and in private nongariculture industries, selected States,1980


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