Bye-bye, collective bargaining?


This fall, the Utah Legislature may research the possibility of eliminating collective bargaining for government workers, including employees of public schools. We interviewed Senator Howard Stephenson (R-Dist. 11) and Kory Holdaway, director of government relations and political action at the Utah Education Association, to hear two different perspectives on this issue.

In this video, each explains what collective bargaining is and why he is for or against it. Take a look:


What do you think? Should the Legislature consider abolishing collective bargaining for public employees?

Here’s the script of the video:

VOICE-OVER: Is the collective-bargaining dispute headed to Utah? The Education Interim Committee chairmen, Senator Howard Stephenson and Representative Bill Wright, wrote a letter to legislative leaders asking to study three heated issues, one of them being the elimination of collective bargaining for public employees.

SENATOR HOWARD STEPHENSON: “The Legislature will be looking at whether to prohibit collective bargaining with all government workers or whether to prohibit it to just for school districts and their negotiations.”

VOICE-OVER: Kory Holdaway, the Utah Education Association’s government relations director, explains what collective bargaining means.

KORY HOLDAWAY: “Collective bargaining is where citizens or people within the association or group or union come together and negotiate with their employer for the benefit of the employer and also the employee. It’s both to the benefit of the employer as well as the employee to come together and basically come to agreements as to what’s the best direction for organizations to be moving and what those benefits would look like.”

VOICE-OVER: So is the study of this volatile issue necessary? Why should Utah lawmakers consider the elimination of collective bargaining?

SENATOR STEPHENSON: “Fewer and fewer teachers are joining the unions, and yet many districts in Utah are only accepting negotiations from the union itself. It leaves the other teachers out; it leaves the other teachers to just accept whatever the union negotiators have agreed with the district.”

VOICE-OVER: But Mr. Holdaway disagrees with Senator Stephenson’s assertion.

KORY HOLDAWAY: “We think it would be a mistake to do away with collective bargaining on a number of different fronts, the main one being that it’s an opportunity to have teachers at the table in terms of negotiating what’s best for students and what’s best for education.”

VOICE-OVER: The purpose behind all of this is to improve education of our children. Senator Stephenson believes the elimination of collective bargaining will improve the quality of our teachers.

SENATOR STEPHENSON: “This is an effort to improve schools through competition. It makes sense that the better teachers be paid more; it makes sense that the teachers with training in high-demand areas, such as math and science, be paid more than teachers in low-demand areas.”

VOICE-OVER: So instead of collective bargaining, what do Utah lawmakers have in mind that would better serve our education system?

HOWARD STEPHENSON: “The Legislature will also be looking at performance-based pay, adaptive testing to measure that performance-based pay on, and end the lockstep salary system which we now have which pays teachers solely on longevity and number of college credit hours they have earned.”

VOICE-OVER: However, the Utah Education Association believes performance-based pay can still be discussed alongside collective bargaining.

KORY HOLDAWAY: “The whole notion of performance-based pay and collective bargaining aren’t even related to one another; performance-based pay is something that could be negotiated within a collective bargaining agreement. So to say it’s one versus the other is a faulty notion.”

VOICE-OVER: As for Sutherland Institute’s outlook, Derek Monson explains.

DEREK MONSON: “Reforming a failed collective bargaining process that has failed to incentivize and encourage performance of employees is a good idea. The best way to do it would be as a shift toward a performance-based system of pay, whether that’s for schoolteachers, state employees, or city employees.”

VOICE-OVER: So what do you think? Should the Legislature look at eliminating collective bargaining for public employees? Remember, all public policy changes lives. For Sutherland Institute, I’m Alexis Young.