<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

Arguing for collective bargaining

This photograph shows people protesting in response to Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s collective bargaining laws.
In 2011, thousands of people in Wisconsin protested against a bill that would eliminate the right to collective bargaining over everything except wages. (Credit: modification of work by Fibonacci Blue/Flickr Creative Commons)

Collective bargaining in wisconsin

In 2011, thousands of people crowded into the Wisconsin State Capitol rotunda carrying placards reading “Kill the Bill.” What were they protesting? The newly elected Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker, supported a bill proposed by Republican state legislators that would have effectively eliminated most collective bargaining rights of public sector union employees.

Collective bargaining laws require employers to sit down and negotiate with the representative union of their employees. The governor argued that the state needed to close a multi-billion-dollar deficit, so legislators proposed a Budget Repair Act that would eliminate collective bargaining over everything but wages. The bill passed and was signed into law after a significant level of drama that saw Democratic legislators leaving the state so that there would not be enough legislators in house to continue the debate or bring the bill to a vote. The law proved so unpopular that Governor Walker faced a recall vote in 2012. The recall attempt was defeated, but the law has been subjected to numerous court reviews. The discussion about the role of collective bargaining is not over.

Why was a bill like this proposed? Are collective bargaining rights necessary for public sector employees? How would an economist respond to such a bill? This chapter lays out the changing role of unions in U.S. labor markets.

Introduction to issues in labor markets: unions, discrimination, immigration

In this chapter, you will learn about:

  • Labor Unions
  • Employment Discrimination
  • Immigration

When a job applicant is bargaining with an employer for a position, the applicant is often at a disadvantage—needing the job more than the employer needs that particular applicant. John Bates Clark (1847–1938), often named as the first great American economist, wrote in 1907: “In the making of the wages contract the individual laborer is always at a disadvantage. He has something which he is obliged to sell and which his employer is not obliged to take, since he [that is, the employer] can reject single men with impunity.”

To give workers more power, the U.S. government has passed, in response to years of labor protests, a number of laws to create a more equal balance of power between workers and employers. These laws include some of the following:

  • Setting minimum hourly wages
  • Setting maximum hours of work (at least before employers pay overtime rates)
  • Prohibiting child labor
  • Regulating health and safety conditions in the workplace
  • Preventing discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and age
  • Requiring employers to provide family leave
  • Requiring employers to give advance notice of layoffs
  • Covering workers with unemployment insurance
  • Setting a limit on the number of immigrant workers from other countries

[link] lists some prominent U.S. workplace protection laws. Many of the laws listed in the table were only the start of labor market regulations in these areas and have been followed, over time, by other related laws, regulations, and court rulings.

Prominent u.s. workplace protection laws
Law Protection
National Labor-Management Relations Act of 1935 (the “Wagner Act”) Establishes procedures for establishing a union that firms are obligated to follow; sets up the National Labor Relations Board for deciding disputes
Social Security Act of 1935 Under Title III, establishes a state-run system of unemployment insurance, in which workers pay into a state fund when they are employed and received benefits for a time when they are unemployed
Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 Establishes the minimum wage, limits on child labor, and rules requiring payment of overtime pay for those in jobs that are paid by the hour and exceed 40 hours per week
Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 Allows states to decide whether all workers at a firm can be required to join a union as a condition of employment; in the case of a disruptive union strike, permits the president to declare a “cooling-off period” during which workers have to return to work
Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII of the Act prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, gender, national origin, religion, or sexual orientation
Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970 Creates the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which protects workers from physical harm in the workplace
Employee Retirement and Income Security Act of 1974 Regulates employee pension rules and benefits
Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 Prohibits discrimination against women in the workplace who are planning to get pregnant or who are returning to work after pregnancy
Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 Prohibits hiring of illegal immigrants; requires employers to ask for proof of citizenship; protects rights of legal immigrants
Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988 Requires employers with more than 100 employees to provide written notice 60 days before plant closings or large layoffs
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 Prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities and requires reasonable accommodations for them on the job
Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 Allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for family reasons, including birth or family illness
Pension Protection Act of 2006 Penalizes firms for underfunding their pension plans and gives employees more information about their pension accounts
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 Restores protection for pay discrimination claims on the basis of sex, race, national origin, age, religion, or disability

This chapter covers three issues in the labor markets: labor unions, discrimination against women or minority groups, and immigration and U.S. labor market issues.

Questions & Answers

comment on WTO principle on trading system. trade without discrimination
Omben Reply
optimize z=f(x,y)=6x²-9x-3xy-7y+5y²
Alex Reply
What is an indifference curve?
layla Reply
different levels of utilities of a person in a given set of bundles of goods
RAM
identify and quantify five social costs and social benefits of building a school
Mokgobo Reply
identify and quantity five social costs and social benefits of building a hospital
Mokgobo
short run vs long run
Jean
state the law of diminishing return?
Ibrahim
The Law of Diminishing (Marginal) Returns simply states that at some point in time a business/operation/etc.'s increased productivity will begin to decline.
The
For example, if a small pizza shop currently has 3 workers in the kitchen at any given time,and hiring 1 more worker will increase productivity, at some number of workers hired will the business see a decrease in productivity because the capital resources that the pizza shop has is not infinite.
The
Five social benefits of building a hospital, in my opinion and depending on where it's built, would be 1) Increased care for neighboring residents, 2) Potential jobs for individuals, 3) May decrease the travel time residents need to endure in order to reach the nearest hospital
The
4) May create work-study programs for individuals who aspire to be future Doctors, Nurses, Physicians, etc. 5) Assuming there are local pharmaceutical businesses nearby, the hospital may decide to purchase supplies local, increasing the business' sales. Thus, generating more income.
The
5 costs of building a hospital would be 1) Increased noise and waste pollution from service vehicles and hospital visitors, 2) May require large amounts of space, possibly jeopardizing nearby animal habitats, 3) May see an increase in traffic and possibly car accidents from frantic individuals
The
racing to see their injured friends, family members, etc. 4) Constructing a hospital and hiring staff is very expensive 5) To use funds, private or public, to finance the construction of a hospital cannot be used to fund any other projects. (The concept of opportunity costs.)
The
what is meant by inteference with the price mechanism operation?
Mugen
We use a Supply and Demand graph to illustrate at what price level will the market for a certain good or service be at equilibrium. If the price for a good or service is set too high, consumers will be less inclined to buy that product Thus, creating a surplus.
The
This surplus will eventually drive the price back down to it's equilibrium point. Similarly, if a price for a good or service is set too low, individuals would be more inclined to buy more of a certain product, creating a shortage. This shortage will cause sellers to drive the price back up to the
The
equilibrium point.
The
is it true that the opportunity cost of unemployed labour is zero?
Wisdom Reply
no
Oigebe
give two forms of collusion
nondumiso Reply
1.Explicit Collusion: Also termed overt collusion, this occurs when two or more firms in the same industry formally agree to control the market .
Gafar
2.Implicit Collusion: Also termed tacit collusion, this occurs when two or more firms in the same industry informally agree to control the market, often through nothing more than interdependent actions. A prime example of implicit collusion is price leadership .
Gafar
explicit collusion: this occurs when two or more firms in the same industry legally agree to control the market
Panashe
implicit collusion this occurs when two or more firms in the same industry illegally agree to control the market
Panashe
what is responsible for investigating cases of collusion
nondumiso
what mean economic as a science
Godwin
reasons why a country maybe involved in international trade
Nde Reply
state five similarities and differences between money market and capital market
Victoria Reply
Give a Zimbabwean example of firms operating in an oligopoly market and illustrate using diagrams how a manager in such a market maximize profit
Pam Reply
what is an industry
EWAH Reply
An industry is the production of goods and related services within an economy
Prabhu
an industry is place where goods and services are produced for human consumption....
Usman
scarcity is the major course of economics problems. discuss
Abdulhameed Reply
please say about that it is interesting for us
Abayneh
what is economics
Michael Reply
economics is a social sciences that deals with the production distribution and consumption of goods and services produced.its study of behaviour between economic agents
rkesh
what is the formula for elasticity of demand
Ridwan
change in demand/change in variable variable may be price, income,
rkesh
seasonal unemployment
Enoch Reply
example agriculture
lungku
want and scarcity
Prince
why the average of revenue AR fun
Abba
What is monopoli
Gadrey Reply
What is monopoly
Gadrey
monopoly
Hanan
monipoly ..where one firm controls all the market
RAM
what is demand
Jafar Reply
demand is what one willing and enable to purchase at a given price over period of a time.
Micheal
what is marginal revenue
just

Get the best Principles of economics course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Principles of economics' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask