Synthesis/Summary Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining


Summary of chapter ten by Naff et al.: Labor-Management Relations

The chapter starts by pointing that collective bargaining in thepublic sector was inconceivable until the 1960s, when some countriesallowed the public sector employees to form unions. Over 44% ofpublic sector employees had formed unions by the 1990s. These unionshave been blamed by governments as the main causes of economicrecession that was witnessed in 2008 (Clark et al., 2012). Collectivebargaining in the public sector has been opposed historically. Naffet al point to the labor relations Act of 1935 which excludedemployees from the public sector. Public employees were denied thisopportunity since it was believe that they would strike and cause astate of anarchy and chaos. However, due to pressure from publicservants, the government was forced to subdue and allow collectivebargaining by public servants (Naff et al, 2013).

Naff et al point that the labor relations applied in the privatesector do not fit those required in the public sector. There are someadjustments that need to be made to the private sector laborrelations in order to be applied in the public sector. There existsmajor differences between the public and private collectivebargaining processes (Naff et al, 2013). For example, Naff andassociates point that in the public sector, the parties involved,that is the government and the employees are not equal. Thegovernment sets the terms and conditions of the bargaining process.This is contrary to what happens in the private sector where allparties are equal.

It is also clear that the authors point to the difference exhibitedby the public sector. The public sector has a fragmented employer,unlike the private sector. The public sector as an employer comprisesvarious departments including the judiciary, which is consulted whendetermining the salaries and benefits for public employees (Naff etal, 2013). In the public sector, collective bargaining may reachimpasses and a third party can be involved in the dispute. Naff andassociates state that strikes are as a result of unresolved impassesand are often the last resorts. Due to the developments that haveoccurred in the collective bargaining process have resulted in thedevelopment of procedures for employees to air their grievances inboth the private and public sector. The Civil Service Reform Act of1978 has been viewed as one of the most significant statutes in thefight for recognition by public servant unions (Naff et al, 2013). Itmade the labor relations to ret upon a statute as opposed toexecutive orders.

Summary of chapter fourteen by Klingner et al: CollectiveBargaining

The authors start the chapter by stating that collective bargainingis a sanction function that seeks to establish the terms andconditions of employment between the employer and the employee.Employees are represented in the negotiations by selected leaders oftheir unions (Clark et al., 2012). Klingner et al. state thatcollective bargaining was a matter of the private sector. However,between 1960 and 1970, the public sector became increasingly vocal indemand for collective bargaining rights. According to the chapterauthors, private sector collective bargaining started in the 1800swhen industrial and craft unions championed for the rights of theiremployees. Employees in the private sector operating under thecollective bargaining process has reduced significantly since 1960s(Klingner et al, 2010). The chapter authors have attributed this tothe change from manufacturing to service delivery.

Klingner and associates have stated that the public sectorcollective bargaining process is different from the private one.Employees in the public sector have a fragmented employer. Thisimpairs their ability to negotiate with the employer because theymust consult all other stakeholders such as the judiciary (Klingneret al, 2010). In order to develop a strong collective bargainingcapacity, the leaders of employees must be in a position to convincethe management or the employer that the process is aimed at qualityservice delivery as opposed to the economic concerns of the members.

Whereas the relationship between the employer and the public serviceemployees has been adversarial in nature, recent studies have shownthat this trend has changed. Employees in the public sector are ableto engage in partnership relations in resolving disputes (Klingner etal, 2010). Employers, especially in the private sector have focusedmore on the effectiveness and performance of the employees. As aresult, the issue of the rights of the employees has changeddrastically.

Personal commentary

The two chapters have clearly highlighted the history of thecollective bargaining process in the private and the public sector.The fall of the collective bargaining in the private sector has alsobeen well discussed and the reasons given. It was also interesting tonote the various differences that exist between the private andpublic sector collective bargaining. However, it was clear that theissue of political influence and corruption in the public civilservice system were shallowly covered. The roles played by collectivebargaining were also clearly discussed. The fragmentation of theemployer in the public sector has rendered the collective bargainingprocess ineffective. It is essential to point that the chapters haveoffered an insightful, interesting and captivating read.


Naff, K.C., Ricucci, N., &amp Freyss, S.F. (2013). PersonnelManagement in Government: Politics and Process (7th Edition).Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Klingner, D.E, Nalbandian, J., and Llorens, J. (2010). PublicPersonnel Management: Contexts and Strategies (6th Edition). NewYork: Longman/Pearson

Clark, P. F., Delaney, J. T., &amp Frost, A. C. (2012). Collectivebargaining in the private sector. Champaign, Ill.