Abstract This project enhances understanding of the politics surrounding public sector labor relations reforms pursued and enacted across the American states surrounding the Great Recession. First, I examine the relationship between state-level patterning in the direction and intensity of state collective bargaining reform agendas and key political and fiscal characteristics of states. Next, I provide a detailed analysis of the content of collective bargaining reforms pursued and enacted across the states during the Great Recession. I find that partisanship and labor union influence shape lawmakers' choices in meaningful ways: states with strong public sector unions and Democratically-controlled legislatures were reluctant to pursue union formation restrictions, presumably because they did not want to upset their influential labor allies. Nonetheless, Democratic lawmakers still sought to limit the influence of entrenched labor unions in the context of a weak state economy, especially with a Republican Governor at the helm. Finally, I assess the relationship between state political and economic characteristics and occupational targeting in the reform agenda. I find that where teachers unions are more influential in state politics, measured in terms of their average yearly political campaign donations (to any party or issue), there were more anti-teacher reforms on state legislative agendas. Conversely, I find a significant negative relationship between Republican-friendly state teachers unions and a reform agenda predominantly aimed at weakening teachers' collective bargaining rights. I conclude that the prominence of "anti-teacher" legislation in many states' collective bargaining reform agendas has an important political basis: weakening teachers unions and their Democratic political allies.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2015. Major: Political Science. Advisor: Andrew Karch. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 196 pages.
Labor's Last Stand? The Great Recession And Public Sector Collective Bargaining Reform In The American States.
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