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A Framework for Evaluation of the Union-Management Relationship in Government


In the present study, a framework is developed for evaluating the union management relationship in government based broadly on the concept of organizational effectiveness. A number of previous evaluative studies of the union management relationship are first examined to demonstrate some of the inadequacies of alternative approaches as well as the differences between these approaches and the framework we develop. The conceptual rationale for using organizational effectiveness as the yardstick against which to evaluate the union-management relationship is then discussed. We conclude with a discussion of the utility of the framework for evaluating union-management relationships in government.

The impact of the union-management relationship on government effectiveness cannot be underestimated. Newland (1971) argues that "collective bargaining must serve as one of several vehicles for creative change...if it is to be compatible with future public interests" (p. i). A variety of assessments indicate, however, that collective bargaining in government has been, rather than a vehicle for creative change, an instrument for achieving partisan interests (Doherty, 1971; Nigro, 1972; Perry & Levine, 1976; Shaw & Clark, 1972). As long as public managers pit public employees against citizens or public employee unions pit the public against management, labor-management relations in government will have decidedly negative impacts on the parties, the public, and the political system. Methods are needed for re-integrating management, employee, and citizen interests. The evaluative framework we propose highlights the multiplicity of interests that must be balanced through the union-management relationship. It also identifies explicit criteria for which all the parties in public sector bargaining should be held accountable.

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