How Public Employees Win and Lose the Right to BargainDominic D. Wells
How do public employees win and lose their collective bargaining rights? And how can public sector labor unions protect those rights? These are the questions answered in From Collective Bargaining to Collective Begging. Dominic Wells takes a mixed-methods approach and uses more than five decades of state-level data to analyze the expansion and restriction of rights.
Wells identifies the factors that led states to expand collective bargaining rights to public employees, and the conditions under which public employee labor unions can defend against unfavorable state legislation. He presents case studies and coalition strategies from Ohio and Wisconsin to demonstrate how labor unions failed to protect their rights in one state and succeeded in another.
From Collective Bargaining to Collective Begging also provides a comprehensive quantitative analysis of the economic, political, and cultural factors that both led states to adopt policies that reduced the obstacles to unionization and also led other states to adopt policies that increased the difficulty to form and maintain a labor union. In his conclusion, Wells suggests the path forward for public sector labor unions and what policies need to be implemented to improve employee labor relations.
“Few issues stirred partisan passions in the 2010s more than the collective bargaining rights of public sector workers. In this engaging account, Dominic Wells sheds new light on the explosive battles over public sector unionism that inflamed Wisconsin, Ohio, and the courts in those years. Pondering how weakened unions might learn from and redress their recent losses, he offers a timely agenda for the 2020s.”
—Joseph A. McCartin, Georgetown University, author of Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike that Changed America
“From Collective Bargaining to Collective Begging is an ambitious, comprehensive mixed-methods analysis of the expansion and retrenchment of public sector labor rights. Wells explains a broader span of labor law development than has been addressed by scholars, looking from when Wisconsin passed the first public sector collective bargaining bill in 1959 to the recent battles over labor retrenchment in the 2010s. With rich, compelling case studies, Wells shows that partisanship is not destiny—coalitions and framing strategy matter in labor law battles. This is a must-read for labor scholars and activists alike.”
—Leslie K. Finger, University of North Texas
“ Wells offers an informed and needed road map for where public-sector trade unions and practitioners should be heading to make gains in public policy and to protect their collective bargaining rights, as well as a baseline text for scholars in the field of employment relations in the public sector.”
"Wells’s analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data is a welcome addition to the understanding of labor in the public sector. He helps to clarify the impacts of economic conditions, interest groups, and political motives in granting or restricting public sector bargaining. While the book helps to clarify these issues, work remains on how unions can work to defend their rights in the face of political opposition."
"Each of these analytical strategies—the quantitative analyses and the case studies—would have made for a compelling book on their own, but their combination makes this book all the more impressive. It is written in a balanced tone that is a refreshing departure from much of the literature on public-sector unions. Wells takes seriously a wide range of alternative arguments and lets the data adjudicate between them, resulting in a persuasive book."
—Perspectives on Politics
A Collective PursuitLesley Lavery