The 1971 book, The Unions and the Cities (Brookings Institution) by Harry H. Wellington and Ralph K. Winter addressed initial concerns of whether private sector collective-bargaining rights should be granted to public sector workers. In his introduction to this working paper, Keefe writes, "their greatest concern was whether public sector collective bargaining based on the private sector model may result in distortions of democracy that would shift governmental resources disproportionately toward public employee compensation and result in the over employment of economically and politically advantaged and powerful groups of public employees."
Keefe writes that the book's authors, lacking empirical data, "largely relied on theoretical analyses, case studies, and legal decisions. In contrast, today we can rely on fifty years of evidence to evaluate the concerns they raised and the advice they provided." Keefe in his retrospective reconsideration says that the intial fears about public sector collective-bargaining rights have proved to be unfounded:
"The full private sector model was never transplanted. The various state public labor laws that were enacted, resulted in relatively small pay increases for public employees where collective bargaining was permitted. In many circumstances, even where there is a duty to bargain, the public employer retained considerable power by adopting laws that provide for mediation and factfinding as the final step in dispute resolution."
Keefe's working paper was prepared for the World Congress of the International Labor and Employment Relations Association in Philadelphia, Pa., July 1-5, 2012.
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