WK-11: GOOD MANAGEMENT OR BARGAINING IN BAD FAITH 5
The public sector employees’ collective bargaining power is yet todevelop to the expected levels. This case study has indicated thatthe private sector is miles ahead in terms of employees’unionization and collective bargaining rights (Naff et al., 2013).The case demonstrates how the government uses threats ofprivatization and outsourcing to ensure employees abide by the rulesset. The main issue affecting the collective bargaining capacity inthe public personnel systems is the role that politics play in thecivil service system.
According to the case study, it is clear that the public sector’scollective bargaining powers are limited. Whereas the government hasallowed the public sector to have unions to fight for their rights,it is clearly evident that the unions are under subjective control bythe same government (Klingner et al., 2010). The case, however,indicates that the unions have the capacity to engage the governmentin regard to various employees’ rights. The government does notengage public sector employees in good faith while negotiating foremployment terms.
The issue at hand in the case study is a sensitive issue thatdeals with the security of the people at Sunbelt city. Unlike thesolid waste and public works employees, the privatization oroutsourcing of the security detail of a city requires extensiveanalysis and consideration (Klingner et al., 2010). It is critical toremember that the quality of security must be of a high andacceptable standard by the public. The three options provided by thecollective bargaining expert do not promote quality and do notprovide any assurance of motivated sworn police officers. The optionof bargaining with the PBA in good faith would have been the bestoption. It would have been imperative to take a soft stand whilebargaining with the law enforcement officers. It could have also beenapparent to involve the members of the public and all the councilmembers when negotiating the terms of employment with the PBA. Thiswould ensure that all parties negotiate for the way forward. The keystep in negotiating a way forward is to avoid imposing terms on thesecurity officers.
The main objective for Sunbelt city is to reduce costs, as well asreducing taxes. One of the major ways of reducing taxes is throughcontrolling the wage bill of the city. In areas where public serviceshave been contracted or hard bargained, the cost of wages hasremained low. This has led to reduced taxes. Hard bargaining wouldensure that the PBA falls for the terms that the government advocatesfor (Klingner et al., 2010). The reduction of salaries for newemployees, as well as benefits would ensure that the wage bill isreduced significantly. Contracting out could also be argued on thebasis of reduced cost, as well as assured quality of services (Najita& Stern, 2010). Research has indicated that contracting ofsecurity services has been done in other countries and states and hasproved to be extremely successful. Contracting would also ensure thatthe city reduces the cost of security by a half (Naff et al., 2013).This is besides the risks that the contractor bears.
Although corruption at the Sherriff’s office has played a majorrole in my dismissal, it is evident that the problem was notsubjected to an all-involvement discussion. The option of taking ahardline and posing threats was a wrong approach. It is alwaysimperative to involve the members of the public and other decisionmakers before embarking on such an undertaking (Najita & Stern,2010). It would also have been important to assess the role played bypolitics in the public sector. It would have been essential to notethat the security detail of a city is an extremely sensitive sector,which require deep analysis and consultations before embarking onchanging how it operates. It is, however essential to point thatcorruption and rumors played in a major role in my dismissal.
The adversarial approach was a wrong one right from the beginning.It would have been significantly important to start a partnershipapproach with the leadership of the law enforcers at the beginning ofthe bargaining process. This would have ensured that the decisionsarrived at are favorable both to the city’s management and the lawenforcers. However, after the establishing the spirit for anadversarial approach, it would be extremely difficult to convince theleadership of the law enforcers to come to the discussion table for apartnership discussion. It is clearly evident that the police unionwas already accusing the city for bad faith in the negotiations. Itwould therefore be difficult to call back the leadership of thepolice union to a partnership approach discussion. The lawenforcement officers play a critical role in maintaining law andorder in the city. In this light, it would be extremely illogical andinappropriate to impose conditions on the officers.
Naff, K.C., Ricucci, N., & 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.
Najita, J. M., & Stern, J. L. (2010). Collective bargaining inthe public sector: The experience of eight states. Armonk, N.Y:M.E. Sharpe.