Organization of Public Employees

October 25, 1967

Report Outline
Labor Activity by Public Employes
Laws on Organizing Public Employees
Collective Negotiating in Government

Labor Activity by Public Employes

Government itself is the scene today of labor unrest. Picket lines are being set up and manned by teachers, by public transit workers, sometimes even by firemen. Government, which has made collective bargaining work reasonably well in the private sector of the economy for three decades, now is having trouble doing so in its own house. The significant question no longer seems to be whether there should be collective bargaining in the ranks of public employees but of how to deal with it to the satisfaction of the public and public servants alike.

Attention was dramatically directed to the question late last summer when controversies over the pay of public school teachers in a score of cities from New York to East St. Louis delayed the opening of school for two million youngsters. Complaints of policemen and firemen over salaries have left several cities virtually unprotected for short periods. For a time early in September only one fire station among 15 in Youngstown, Ohio, was manned and only 10 per cent of the city's police force was on duty. City officials were informed that the absent men were attending “professional meetings”—a technique increasingly resorted to by public employees to circumvent no-strike laws.

Teacher Strikes as Sign of New Militancy

The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 142 strikes involving state and local government employees in 1966, the total exceeding that of the previous four years combined. Teachers accounted for 33 of the strikes last year, and for almost 40 in Michigan alone this year. The American Federation of Teachers (A.F.L.-C.I.O.) conducted several of the teacher strikes in that state, including a two-week walkout in Detroit at the outset of the school year. A 15-day strike of New York City teachers in September was called by the United Federation of Teachers, the A.F.T.'s 49,000-member New York local. The U.F.T., disregarding New York State's no-strike law, kept the classrooms closed until Sept. 29, by which time it had won for the teachers a salary increase of $150 more a year than what the Board of Education had offered. The teachers also won a voice in board policy making and a promise of more aid to a special program for slum schools.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Public Employees
Apr. 08, 2011  Public-Employee Unions
Sep. 19, 1975  Public Employee Militancy
Oct. 25, 1967  Organization of Public Employees
Jul. 10, 1957  Unionization of Public Employees
May 18, 1955  Government Jobs
Nov. 01, 1952  Good Men for Government
Oct. 12, 1951  Government Employment
Jan. 19, 1942  Pay of Public Employees
Jun. 26, 1939  Extension of the Merit System
Jan. 20, 1932  Compensation of Public Employees
Government Labor-Management Relations
Unions and Labor-Management Relations