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Resolutions & Amendments

34th International Convention - Philadelphia (2000)

Collective Bargaining Rights and Public Employees

Resolution No. 84
34th International Convention
June 26 - 30, 2000
Philadelphia, PA


Over six decades ago, the U. S. Congress guaranteed the right of collective bargaining to workers in the private sector through the National Labor Relations Act. Those basic rights and protections are still denied to many state and local government employees; and


An irrational patchwork of state laws, local ordinances and Executive Orders characterize public sector labor relations at the beginning of the new century. There is a marked absence of equitable and uniform standards among public jurisdictions. Only 22 states have passed comprehensive public sector labor relations laws extending collective bargaining to public employees at the state and local levels. An additional 13 states have passed state public sector labor relations laws granting more limited collective bargaining rights. These laws either restrict the scope of bargaining for state employees, limit the coverage to local government employees, and/or limit the occupations covered at the local government level. In all, there are over 75 separate state laws governing collective bargaining in the public sector at the state and/or local level; and


AFSCME continues to win or expand bargaining rights for public employees. Maryland state employees and Commonwealth of Puerto Rico employees gained the right to bargain with recent laws. However, progress in getting new laws or expanding existing rights is painfully slow. At the same time, we face efforts to dismantle existing rights. New Mexico state employees lost bargaining rights when their law expired in 1999; and


Title VII of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 granted federal employees the right to bargain collectively but at the same time restricted the scope of bargaining by prohibiting negotiations on wages, fringe benefits, union security and other items that are of vital importance to all workers. Today federal agencies are being granted exemptions from federal personnel laws to develop their own personnel systems. While some federal employees achieve expanded bargaining rights as a result, each new system creates more inequality in the basic rights of federal employees; and


For those employees with collective bargaining, despite the healthy fiscal condition of most employers, a number of employers still refuse to reach reasonable economic settlements with AFSCME affiliates or link progress in one area with concessions in another, necessitating militant action on the part of the union in order to achieve fairness for the membership. These battles for equitable settlements highlight the importance of full collective bargaining rights.


That AFSCME will continue to fight for full collective bargaining rights for public employees. In states such as Missouri, Kentucky and New Mexico, we will fight for collective bargaining laws. In other states, such as Delaware and Washington, where state employees cannot bargain over wages, we will not rest until we bring these public employees full wage bargaining; and


That AFSCME reaffirms its support for enactment of federal legislation to establish a rational framework extending full collective bargaining rights to all state and local government employees. AFSCME also supports the enactment of legislation to provide full-scope collective bargaining for all federal employees; and


That AFSCME International will work with affiliates, using every means available to achieve equitable settlements for our members; and


That AFSCME International, councils and locals will work to educate elected officials and the public about the benefits of collective bargaining for public employees and the injustice of public employees being denied these fundamental rights.




Allen Whitehead, President and Delegate
Cathy Weldon, Secretary and Delegate
AFSCME Local 443, Council 28