How would you answer that question? Do you believe that the two parties are diametrically opposed to each other, or that most of their interests are the same?
Some people cling to the old belief that labor and management are in constant conflict, with labor driving up costs with no regard for their employers or taxpayers. They believe the answer is simple – do away with collective bargaining and budgets will be balanced and all will be well.
Like most simple answers, this one is wrong.
What surprises many is most of the interests of labor and management overlap. It is on these common interests CALMC works to build its cooperative efforts.
In Ohio’s public sector, we have seen union and management work together to improve customer service, enhance efficiency, and cut costs. Both sides know they must work together to survive. They have cooperated to reduce costs, including salaries and benefits, save jobs and help each other. They have done this based on their common needs and interests.
There has been a lot of finger-pointing and blame finding about what caused the economic downturn. One thing is certain – anger and frustration are occurring and driving the finger-pointing and blame game. Everyone is blaming someone or some group for this horrible situation and trying to find a solution without identifying the real cause.
In Ohio, Wisconsin, and other places, collective bargaining and organized labor are now being targeted by politicians, special interest groups and others. According to these groups, collective bargaining costs too much money. Placing blame does not fix the problem.
There is no doubting the financial difficulties facing the state, municipalities, and school districts. The problems are real, and have many causes. Eliminating collective bargaining will not fix them. Those who believe it will ignore one basic fact, the total state payroll ($3.45 billion in 2009 according to the Columbus Dispatch) is less than the size of the budget deficit.
Adversarial behaviors like attacking, pointing fingers, blaming and arguing do nothing to solve budget problems. CALMC has helped labor and management work together in many public sector agencies. Both sides have been very willing to look at ways to reduce costs and improve service to taxpayers based on their common concerns and interests.
Solving the budget problems will require the work and cooperation of everyone. Wasting time trying to impose the will of one side over the other is not the answer.