Eliminating Collective Bargaining Rights

News Release: Faculty Experts, Finance and Economics, Law, Politics

Apr. 15,  2011

Eliminating Collective Bargaining Rights

As the debate over collective bargaining rights for public employees in Wisconsin and other states continues, Emory University labor law expert Charles Shanor says he doesn’t believe eliminating a worker’s right to bargain is the best way to balance a budget.

“I am generally in favor of having a bargaining process,” Shanor explains. “It is a structured way of reaching accommodations where different parties have different interests.”

Why Eliminate Collective Bargaining?

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker said it was mandatory to eliminate collective bargaining for public unions in order to help trim the state’s budget deficit.  Political leaders in other states are also working on similar budget proposals. But, Shanor says that move could cost public employees greatly.

“Where there’s no obligation to bargain, the state could simply say [to the public employees] ‘Shove it. We’re not going to talk with you anymore,” he says. “I would rather have an open process with rules directed at striking or other incentive issues as opposed to rules that say ‘we don’t have to talk to you.’”

Teacher Pay Cuts?

Opponents in the public sector believe that if a judge upholds the elimination of collective bargaining for public employees, the first major change we’ll see is a steady drop in salaries, especially for teachers. Shanor doesn’t believe that will happen.

“Citizens want to have their children educated well,” Shanor explains. “If you have to pay more money to get your children educated, a lot of people will be willing to do that. It’s not necessarily true that the salaries of teachers will go down.”


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