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:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f99vUvuQR0

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.

This entry was posted in Collective Bargaining, Education and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • http://twitter.com/ruaniteit Ross Rogers

    No, stay out of it. All the Legislature is doing is trying to pass the blame for how bad they are doing. Let’s make the teachers look bad!

  • Susie

    Of course nobody should eliminate collective bargaining. We just need to convince the Legislature that we’re serious about switching to a performance-based pay scale, and getting away from tenure.

  • Sherree0

    Why does the legislature think giving employees a voice about their employment, conditions, pay is bad policy?  What happens when teachers have no voice and are dictated to by administration/legislators?  Do you think this really improves education?  What is the hidden agenda here?  Could it be that the legislators (Mr. Stevenson) just dislikes the idea that a “liberal group like the teachers union” can have a say in how the education system is run? I think society has forgotten history.  Unions were formed to help protect workers when they were being abused, working in unsafe conditions, and completely repressed and at the mercy of owners and management.  Terrible things happened to workers that only changed when unions gained power. Today the teachers who don’t join the union do so mainly because they don’t want to pay the dues and can gain the benefits by being parasites on the paying members.  NOT because they are morally opposed to unions and collective bargaining.   They are generally apathetic.    I am disappointed that human beings never learn life lessons.  We must keep repeating the mistakes of the past over and over.  As they say “history repeats itself….”  Maybe the legislators need to read their history books and refresh their memories.

  • Jack

    On average, unions/public workers=democrats/liberal.  On average, corporations=republican/conservative.  If elected republicans are anti-union and pro-corporations it helps bolster their base and defeat their political opponents.  It’s the history of the decline of unions in the 20th Century, both public and private;  all at the hands of conservatives and corporations.

    Sen. Stephenson implies that he values math/science yet is incapable of showing, with any scientific research, that collective bargaining is causing any of the problems he thinks it is.  His proposal is a solution in search of a problem (or more likely just another attack on unions and teachers, despite his plea to the contrary).  He ignores the scientific research that shows that performance pay and extrinsic motivators do not work in schools or for many types of work that are similar to teaching (see the Vanderbilt study and Daniel Pink’s review).

    He leads the education wing of the legislature that has continuously underfunded education to the tune of being LAST in the nation.  If Sen. Stephenson could invest in a company whose costs/resource use were the LEAST of any of its competitors in the marketplace yet produced above average outcomes (revenue) he’d be overjoyed, I’m sure, and be proposing it as a model for the world.  Yet when Utah education produces above average results with the LEAST funding in the nation and highest class sizes, he does not praise the amazing job that teachers/staff must be doing nor does he suggest that what’s happening in public education should be replicated.  Instead he attacks it at every turn.

    Sen. Stephenson forgets that he is a public servant.  He is not serving the public good.  He may be serving his base and his lobbyists, but he’s not serving the public good when it comes to education.

    Perhaps if he treated himself and others the way he treats teachers he might gain some insight.  I challenge Sen. Stephenson to introduce legislation that allows the public to evaluate them on a yearly basis.  This test will allow us to pay some legislators more than others, as some are obviously doing a better job and it will improve competition between legislators.  He also should propose that this should be the case for police, fire, and military.  He should also propose tax credits for individuals or families that want to opt out of having their legislator be paid because they’d rather use that money to hire a private lobbyist or lawyer to represent them and their family.

    I don’t have enough room to point out all the poor logic and lack of empirical evidence in the poor rhetoric used by Stevenson and his colleagues.  It’s just sad that people such as this are in decision making roles for anything associated with education.

  • Anonymous

    I am befuddled by those who continue to espouse the idea that public education should be run by some business model. Is there room for improvement in public education? Absolutely! Will that improvement come by taking away the voice of those most invested in its improvement? Absolutely not!

    I have a difficult time understanding how a man with Mr. Stevenson’s experience can be so ignorant about public education. Howard Stevenson needs to spend several days in classrooms across the state (that’s days, not minutes). Perhaps then he will understand that the teachers, and their professional associations, are not the problem – they are the solution. He may also begin to understand that the problems faced in the typical Utah classroom are not the result of an abundance of poor teachers, they are the result of a society that is cutting itself adrift from the values and standards upon which this great nation was founded. Perhaps that will lead Mr. Stevenson to put his time and effort into legislation that helps solves the problems we face in public education instead of creating additional problems.

  • Anonymous

    I am befuddled by those who continue to espouse the idea that public education should be run by some business model. Is there room for improvement in public education? Absolutely! Will that improvement come by taking away the voice of those most invested in its improvement? Absolutely not!

    I have a difficult time understanding how a man with Mr. Stevenson’s experience can be so ignorant about public education. Howard Stevenson needs to spend several days in classrooms across the state (that’s days, not minutes). Perhaps then he will understand that the teachers, and their professional associations, are not the problem – they are the solution. He may also begin to understand that the problems faced in the typical Utah classroom are not the result of an abundance of poor teachers, they are the result of a society that is cutting itself adrift from the values and standards upon which this great nation was founded. Perhaps that will lead Mr. Stevenson to put his time and effort into legislation that helps solves the problems we face in public education instead of creating additional problems.

  • Duane

    Of course, Holdaway leaves out taxpayers, the students and their parents in the negotiating process. Collective Bargaining between teacher’s union representatives and administrators who used to be teachers and members of the same union (and may still be members of the union) is not bargaining at all. It’s collusion at the expense of taxpayers and with little or no real concern for the students.

    That is why Utah now spends almost TRIPLE what we used to spend on education in inflation-adjusted dollars compared to was spent thirty years ago and there has been little or no improvement in educational results. Whining about being last in the country in spending is irrelevant. Utah has always been near the bottom in spending, but historically was near the top in results. Spending has TRIPLED in the last thirty years and results are slipping.

    A teachers union leader famously said something like “I will be concerned with student interests only when students pay union dues.” Union dues that he could live high off the hog with.

  • Duane

    The amount of money spent on public education is NOT positively correlated with educational results. Look at places like DC and Kansas City. In fact, there have been instances when more money was associated with declining results. Just throwing money is not the answer. We’ve already done that.

    Stephenson’s (and my) complaint is that education has received MASSIVE increases over the last thirty years and results have not improved and in some cases have dropped. Utah now spends TRIPLE per student what was spent in the early ’80′s.

    The real subject, though, was collective bargaining. As I pointed out above, collective bargaining as it currently happens is really collusion between union representatives of a fraction of the teachers and former members of the same union, with NO representation of taxpayers, students or their parents. That is a joke, has always been a joke and always will be a joke.