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State employee bargaining: policy and organization.

State employee bargaining: policy and organization

At least 35 State governments engage in some type of labor negotiations with their employees, according to a survey conducted during the 1981-83 period by the Industrial Relations Center at the University 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 units reflecting the history of organizing and negotiation activities in the respective States. The larger groups of organized State employees are in administrative/clerical, corrections, engineering/science, hospital, maintenance/ trades, and public welfare occupations. Some professional employees--dentists, lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers, and administrators--also are in bargaining units.

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is the major State employee union, representing 44 percent of the more than 943,000 covered employees in the survey. State employee associations represent about 75,000, or 18 percent of the employees, but the employee associations are affiliating with other unions, the most recent being the affiliation of the California State Employees' Association with the Service Employees International Union (AFL-CIO).

In the fall of 1981, a questionnaire was sent to the board responsible for collective bargaining procedures or the agency involved in personnel administration in each of the 50 State governments. By the fall of 1983, responses had been received from all States except New Mexico. The questionnaire was designed to identify States according to the extent of employee bargaining activity and to obtain basic data for a study of the characteristics of such activity. Questions were asked about State labor relations policy, organization of the administering agency, unit determination, and impasse resolution procedures. This summary discusses information related to policy and unit determination.

Labor relations policy

Collective bargaining occurs in 27 State governments and, in most instances, is authorized by law. (See table 1.) State employee collective bargaining is now authorized in Illinois by the Public Labor Relations Act (which became effective on July 1, 1984) and by the Education Labor Relations Act (effective January 1, 1984), and in Ohio with the enactment of a comprehensive statute (effective April 1, 1984). Informal consultations with no written agreements take place in four States--Utah, Indiana, Nevada, and Wyoming. In Utah, the State constitution1 and attorney general opinion are the legal basis for such informal consultation. The other three States report no legal basis for their policies. "Meet and confer' discussions with mutual understandings outlined in a memorandum of understanding occur in Alabama. Informal negotiations with written memorandum of understanding are authorized by State law and attorney general opinion in North Dakota. North Dakota also confers exclusive recognition status to unions for the purpose of informal negotiations. In Maryland and Missouri, informal "meet and confer' sessions are authorized by law. Such discussions are held between the Governor and the employee organizations in Maryland.

Five States--Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas--report that State employees had "no bargaining rights.' There was no legal basis in Arkansas for this policy. Mississippi reported "there is no State legislation relative to collective bargaining in the public sector.' Oklahoma and South Carolina replied that State employees were not among employees permitted to bargain, with South Carolina noting attorney general opinions and court rulings as the legal basis for not bargaining. Oklahoma did not provide the legal basis for the State policy. Texas reported that the "employer [is] not required to meet with employee groups, except to accept their grievances.'

Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, and West Virginia reported simply that "bargaining does not occur.' Georgia indicated only that "State employees are prohibited from striking--there are no unions or Board [Public Employee Relations Board],' without any reference to collective bargaining. Kentucky said that "employees have the right to collectively bargain, but [the] State isn't mandated to recognize. Bargaining does not occur.' Citations to State law and an attorney general opinion were given as the legal basis for this policy.

Collective bargaining is prohibited in four States--by law in North Carolina and Colorado, by attorney general opinion in Tennessee, and by court ruling in Virginia.

Thus, while the policy and practices vary among States, some kind of 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 470 bargaining units, according to responses from 27 States. (See table 1.) Most (90 percent) of these employees are concentrated in 15 States. The State of New York employs some 161,000, or 17 percent; California has approximately 130,000, or 14 percent.

As a group, bargaining units carved along occupational lines (for example, nurses, teachers, guards) are found more frequently than units drawn along functional or departmental lines. Such occupational units are represented by unions or associations that limit membership according to a specific occupation or profession. For example, affiliates of the American Nurses Association represent 13 of the 15 units of nurses reported in this survey. However, there are certain groups of employees who, although organized in their own units, have chosen to be represented by broad-based unions, such as AFSCME.

States permitting collective bargaining generally have the appropriate bargaining units determined by Public Employee Relations Boards, other government agencies, or State officials. In Hawaii, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, bargaining units are set forth in the collective bargaining statutes; in Florida, they are established by rules promulgated by the Public Employees Relations Commission. In California, there are 46 potential units. The Public Employment Relations Board has carved 20 units for employees covered by the State Employer-Employee Relations Act; 17 units for the University of California system, and 9 units for the California State University system under the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act. (At the time of the survey, only 9 higher education units had exclusive representatives certified for representation purposes.) In Massachusetts, the Labor Relations Commission has established 10 statewide units of "nonprofessional' and professional employees, and 28 higher education units. Eight additional units (which cover 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 to 51 in Washington; 13 States reported fewer than 15 units. The average number of units is 18. States tend to have relatively few units when employees are organized by occupation on a statewide basis, as is the case in Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, New York, and Vermont (each of these States has 10 or fewer units). Other States (Minnesota with 16 statewide units and Hawaii and Wisconsin with 12 each) carve out additional units by separating subgroups of professional employees and establishing units for supervisory employees.

The case of Ohio is unusual. Prior to the 1983 passage of the collective bargaining law, the State had negotiated agreements with a number of employee organizations. However, the bargaining agent was recognized "based on a percentage of showing of interest determined by the appointing authority of each state agency evidenced by dues payment to an employee organization. Generally, employee organizations were granted the right to negotiate a contract when twenty (20) percent to thirty (30) percent of the total number of employees paid dues to an employee organization. . . . Therefore, recognition was granted based on this showing of interest and not through representation elections.'

It was also explained that Ohio had "agreements which do not define the bargaining unit. In these instances, all dues-paying employees of an agency constitute the bargaining unit.' Presently, the law authorizes the Ohio Public Employment Relations Board to determine the appropriate unit.

Excluded employees

Information on types of employees excluded from bargaining was provided by the 27 States with collective bargaining activities. (See table 1.) Only one State, Louisiana, extends bargaining to all employees, stating "no State employee groups are excluded from appropriate bargaining units.' Managerial employees and confidential employees (generally those who have access to confidential information, or who participate in negotiating on behalf of the employer) are most often excluded (20 States), followed by elected and appointed officials (11) and supervisory employees (9).

Among the collective bargaining units in Alaska is a unit of confidential employees, who are defined as "classified employees of the Executive Branch who "assist or act in a confidential capacity to a person who formulates, determines, and effectuates management policies in the area of collective bargaining'.' Ohio generally included supervisors in the bargaining units if they paid dues to an employee organization. However, some agreements in Ohio defined the bargaining unit to exclude supervisory, confidential, and management-level employees.

Practice varies in terms of coverage of supervisory employees under the bagaining laws. Supervisors are included in the same bargaining unit with nonsupervisory employees in Connecticut, Louisiana, and New York. Two broad supervisory units are set forth by law in Hawaii, but some units combine supervisory and nonsupervisory employees. In Delaware and Washington, most supervisors, if organized, are in units with other employees, although this practice may vary. Separate supervisory 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 grandfathers units that combined nonsupervisory and supervisory employees prior to the enactment of the Public Employment Relations Act. In Florida, only the health care unit includes both supervisors and nonsupervisors, according to rules of the Public Employees Relations Commission. In New Jersey, the Public Employment Relations Commission is authorized to allow a bargaining unit made up of supervisory and nonsupervisory employees under special limited circumstances. Under the Pennsylvania law, supervisors are granted meet and discuss rights only. Supervisory employees in Michigan have only limited recognition rights.

Bargaining organizations

Unions enjoying exclusive representation rights in each of the States 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. In contrast, State employee associations, are recognized in 13(2) of the 26 States providing union representation information, and represent approximately 18 percent of the employees included in the survey. (In January 1984, the California State Employees' Association, with current membership of approximately 90,000, announced it would affiliate with the Service Employees International Union, thus reducing the percentage of employees in the survey represented by employee associations to 8 percent.)

A number of private sector unions hold exclusive representation rights among certain groups of State public employees. For example, the Communications Workers of America represents the largest number of employees, 42,313, in six units in New Jersey and one unit in California. The Service Employees International Union represents more than 34,000 employees in Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. Other private sector unions representing State employees include the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (six units with 9,000 employees in New Jersey and Washington), the Retail Clerks (four units with 3,380 employees in Montana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Washington), and the Teamsters (11 units with 9,000 employees in Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington). At least 19 other private sector unions are represented in the survey.

In representing State government employees, the private sector unions follow jurisdictional lines in most cases (that is, the Painters, Electricians, and Machinist unions represent craft employees, and the Plant Guard Workers represent security employees). There are, however, variations. For example, the Teamsters union, which has primary interest in "transportation, warehousing, and the manufacture, processing, sale, and distribution of food, milk, and dairy products,'3 claims among its members a unit of university administrative employees in Minnesota. The Communications Workers of America, which began as a union of telephone employees,4 represents State administrative, clerical, professional, and supervisory employees and psychiatric technicians. Until 1981, four of the six CWA units in New Jersey were jointly represented by the Civil Service Association and the State Employee Association.

By occupation. Nearly 75,000 education employees in 21 States are represented by the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, American Association of University Professors, and other education employee organizations. These employees include both instructional and noninstructional professional personnel in institutions of higher education, community colleges, vocational-technical schools, schools for the blind and the deaf, and schools in correctional departments and hospitals. Affiliates of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association represent the largest numbers of employees, approximately 28,700 and 28,300, respectively, followed by the American Association of University Professors with approximately 7,750. Three additional units in Hawaii and Pennsylvania, totaling 7,770 faculty members, are represented jointly by the American Association of University Professors/National Education Association, and American Association of University Professors/American Federation of Teachers. Nonteacher organizations such as the California State Employees' Association, California Federation of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists, Statewide University Police Association, Nebraska Association of Public Employees, and AFSCME represent an additional 51 units consisting of 24,000 employees in education institutions; the majority (22,700) are noninstructional, nonprofessional employees.

Affiliates of the American Nurses Association represent 13 units comprising 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, are represented by the California State Employees' Association and the Hawaii Government Employees Association. In addition, a bargaining unit of 2,000 professional health care employees in Connecticut is represented by the N.E. Health Care Employees, District 1199, and a unit of 1,100 patient care employees in Wisconsin is represented by the United Professionals for Quality Health Care.

More than 20,700 State troopers and police were organized in 15 States. The Policemen's Benevolent Association is by far the largest, representing nearly 8,000 employees in Florida, New Jersey, and New York. The Fraternal Order of Police represents six units totaling 760 employees in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Other police and State trooper organizations, representing more than 12,000 members, include the Alaska Public Safety Employees Association, California Association of Highway Patrolmen, Connecticut State Police Union, Iowa State Police Officers' Council, Kansas Troopers Association, Maine State Troopers Association, State Police Association of Massachusetts, Michigan State Police Troopers Association, Minnesota State Patrol Troopers Association, the State Troopers Fraternal Association of New Jersey, Inc., and the State Troopers Noncommissioned Officers Association of New Jersey, Inc. The Vermont State Employees Association represents a unit of State police officers in that State.

Some observations

The survey results presented here provide the basis for some general observations concerning characteristics of State government employee bargaining: the existence of a bargaining statute determines the bargaining unit coverage, but it may not be determinative of the extent of organization in terms of organized employees; and the extent of organization in the nonagriculture sector appears to influence the organization of State employees, although in States in which collective bargaining is authorized by law, the proportion of organized workers is larger in State government than in private nonagriculture industries. (See table 2.)

The findings reveal State government bargaining characteristics which are not entirely like those that describe the private sector. This leads to questions which require further investigation. What factors other than the existence of a bargaining statute influence or promote organization of State employees? Does the existence of a merit system affect the development of a State's labor relations policy and organization of employees? Are there differences in the bargaining outcomes developing out of State government bargaining? It may be that the perceived differences are only minor variations; but without further examination, it is not clear whether they reflect the environment unique to State government and the individual States.


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 collective bargaining 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 states in which collective bargaining is authorized, 1981-83

Table: 2. Percent of organized full-time employees in State government and in private nongariculture industries, selected States, 1980
COPYRIGHT 1985 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Author:Tanimoto, Helene S.; Inaba, Gail F.
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Apr 1, 1985
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