Today, many government workers are practically “married for life” to the union representing them in their professional fields. For a variety of reasons, decertification elections—the elections that allow workers to fire a union or hire a new one—are notoriously hard to come by, and that bias toward the status quo can be a serious problem for workers when an incumbent union fails to do its job well.
Bradley Harmon, president of CWA Local 6355—a union representing state government employees—recently testified before a legislative committee against a union election bill. Although he was there to offer his opposition to the bill, he ended up admitting that the elections he opposes actually make unions more accountable to the workers they represent. See the clip, recorded by Progress Missouri, above.
The Columbia Public School District (CPS) and the union representing teachers in the district, the Columbia Missouri National Education Association (CMNEA), are embroiled in a labor dispute. The union wants a labor agreement with a pay increase for its members, while the district, in a tight place financially, wants to keep costs down. Unfortunately, because of recent court decisions, the courts might get involved here, substituting their judgment for that of the negotiators.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 72 (AFSCME), a big government union representing various health, service, and maintenance personnel employed by the state government, is complaining about state employee compensation. The claim that Missouri ranks 50th for state worker pay is at the crux of their argument. This point is wildly misleading.
This month voters in the Monarch Fire Protection District, a fire district in western Saint Louis County, chose to keep Robin Harris on the board of directors. Harris and fellow board member Jane Cunningham were instrumental in implementing transparency policies for the district, including open collective bargaining.
Missouri law pertaining to government collective bargaining contains serious inadequacies. The law is part the product of individual court cases, part 50-year-old statute, part long-standing practice, and fails to adequately protect the rights of both citizens and workers. The picture below presents the basic reforms that would help restore accountability.
In neighboring Illinois, a government union representing Chicago transit workers is suing the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) for refusing to let union members pass out fliers in support of one of the candidates in this week’s runoff mayoral election.
From the Chicago Sun Times:
After several posts directed at the labor reforms included in SB 549, it might be useful to summarize what the bill would do. SB 549 is aimed at increasing accountability and transparency in government labor relations. If passed, the bill would:
Last week someone forwarded me this pamphlet from the Missouri National Education Association (MNEA) on collective bargaining for teachers. It’s a well-put-together brochure that explains the MNEA’s position on a pretty complicated issue. While I applaud the union for producing a primer on an area of public policy I think most people do not know a whole lot about, I take issue with a few of the points they make.