Strikes (Public Sector)

The Right to Strike: Some Basic, but Neglected Questions.

As public sector unionism has left behind its baby shoes, come into the limelight, and, in fact, become the only growth area in organized labor, so has the verbiage mushroomed and "rights, privileges, and prerogatives" have been used and abused both verbally as well as in action. When the Review was launched into publication over a year ago, one of its primary purposes was to serve as a reminder that, whatever form labor relations would take in the public sector and no matter how obscured the area became, there was a fundamental difference between the private and public sectors. The direct application of labor relations terminology to the public service, has too often resulted in the obliteration of some basic and very important distinctions between our economic system and our representative form of government. Obviously, the two systems operate on compatible (more or less), but certainly not the same, principles.

The strike by the air traffic controllers has served as a potent, if bitter, pill to stimulate public interest and awareness in this controversial field. In publishing the article by John C. Armor on the "right" to strike, our objective admittedly is not to settle any of the issues, but simply to raise them and to force some second thoughts on subjects and theories which have by virtue of repetition almost been set in concrete.

Public Employee Stoppages in the United States.

The purpose of this article is to display data on public sector work stoppages in the United States by major issue for a ten year period across local, state and federal subdivisions. These data are then followed by a discussion of the possible interconnection between taxing/spending limitations and public sector contract negotiations as they may impact on the relative bargaining power of unions and associations versus public management. Finally the article concludes with a suggestion that an already in-place mechanism in California's Educational Employment Relations Act of 1975 might be more widely considered in order to allow a broader range of constituencies to monitor public sector collective bargaining.

Strikes Against Government: The California Supreme Court. Decision Baird, Charles W

In May 1985, the California Supreme Court invalidated the state's common law prohibition on public employee strikes. That controversial decision resulted from a 1976 case in which a union representing the Los Angeles County sanitation workers had been fined $163,000 for calling an illegal strike. On appeal, the justices ruled six to one that the strike ban was "no longer supportable" and sanctioned such actions for all except essential public health and safety workers. The aftershock from that decision reverberated through the state capital where the consensus of opinion among lawmakers and the governor was that the issue of public employee strikes was one to be properly settled by the legislature, not the judiciary.

California Chief Justice Rose Bird and her court have received a great deal of criticism over this decision and, as a consequence, she faces a tough reconfirmation election this November. In "Strikes Against Government: The California Supreme Court Decision," Dr. Charles W. Baird takes a critical look at the court's reasoning in the strike ruling and discusses it within the greater context of public sector unionism. He also provides an incisive evaluation of Justice Bird's arguments in defense of such strikes, exposing the fallacy of her logic.