Collective Bargaining Term Paper

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Labor Relations & Globalization

Argue for or against the use of the "school voucher program." Which do you believe is right? Explain your answer.

Both the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) identify school voucher programs as a threat to public employees (Carrell & Heavrin, 2007). Critics say that school vouchers provide families with public funds that can be used for private schools with private agendas. Advocates say school vouchers give all families a level playing field in selecting quality school options for their children, and thus force public schools to improve their educational standards.

I would agree that school voucher programs are beneficial. Wealthy parents have a choice of schools for their kids; poor parents should have the same choice. Private schools are often very expensive, thus wealthier parents have the advantage of giving their children an education from only those schools with the highest academic reputation and student outcomes. Economically challenged parents who can't afford private tuition usually have only one option -- the public school in their area. That one choice may be a crime-ridden school that fails in all measures of academia. Measures of both character and academic success are almost always higher within private schools. The Education Department reported that voucher participants show superior skills in reading, safety and orderliness (Despite Success, 2009).

In my opinion, school vouchers help equalize options. In addition, competition between public and private schools is increased, often leading to greater efficiency and results in all schools. When parents have more choices, public schools become unable to function below standard without accountability. Competition forces public schools to work harder at incorporating tangible teaching of values such as hard work, discipline, and respect for others. The accountability private schools face compels them to do a better job if they are to have any students. Our public schools can always be assured that students will come despite school performance. There is a lack of urgency to implement improvements and as a result, more mediocrity throughout the system.

Other reasons I support school vouchers are that private schools are often more flexible in their teaching methods which means that children may receive better assessment and assistance in problem areas. School vouchers also put more money into the private sector, rather than it being wasted by the Department of Education and other government bureaucracies. In addition, where critics point to religious-based schools receiving the vast majority of school vouchers, I believe that because the parent is making the choice, the government is not imposing religion. I don't view this parental choice as a violation of the 1st Amendment establishment clause.


Carrell, M.R., & Heavrin, C. (2007). Labor relations and collective bargaining: Cases, practice, and law (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

(n.d). Despite success, school choice runs into new barriers. 2009. USA Today.

2. Describe the different methods by which labor agreements might consider seniority in a promotional decision.

Seniority systems are favored because they offer an objective, unambiguous means of considering employees for open positions (Carrel & Heavrin, 2007). They are typically easy to develop and reward length of service within the organization, particularly when competing employees are equally qualified for a role. Labor unions have seniority systems in place that give a variety of special benefits to more seasoned members. This can increase company loyalty, making employees more reluctant to quit jobs and erase their seniority (Keffer, 2010).

Seniority may impact the pay scale of unionized workers. New workers for example, often receive one base rate while a more seasoned employee might receive base rate plus an additional amount based on the number of years of service they have given to the organization. Similarly, seniority may also affect benefits such as vacation time. A senior worker might have four or five weeks of paid vacation, while a new worker might get only two or three weeks in a year.

A union might require that the most senior workers be promoted to desirable positions before workers with less seniority, regardless of job performance. In addition, seniority is commonly used to determine which workers remain employed and retain union membership in the event of layoffs. Union rules might force the employer to lay off new workers before those with more seniority (Carrell & Heavrin, 2007). Workers with high levels of seniority, therefore, enjoy much greater job security than those with little seniority.


Carrell, M.R., & Heavrin, C. (2007). Labor relations and collective bargaining: Cases, practice, and law (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Keffer, A. (2010). Dueling Provisions of the Civil Service Act and Collective Bargaining Agreement -- Which takes priority when calculating seniority? Widener Law Journal, 19(2), 519-539.

3. Discuss the essential issues in an employee alcohol and drug testing program.

Employees who abuse alcohol and drugs (including illegal, prescription, and over-the-counter drugs) -- either on their own time or at work -- can pose significant problems for their employers, managers, and coworkers. These problems can include diminished job performance, reduced productivity, absenteeism, tardiness, and increased medical and workers' compensation bills. Employees who abuse drugs and alcohol can make a workplace more volatile and dangerous, exposing employers to legal liability.

The use of an alcohol-and-drug testing program for employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement must be negotiated at the bargaining table. Most unions favor probable-cause testing over random testing of all workers (Carrell & Heavrin, 2007). Drug and alcohol testing will detect misuse in employees and help occupational health professionals recognize workers who have problems and offer them help and support. This coupled with continued testing helps employees work towards abstinence and continued employment (Payton, 2010).

Testing procedures must be administered and interpreted with care. Labs must be certified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or an equivalent state agency. Often lawyers are consulted in developing testing policy and procedures. Unions work with employers to ensure that a written drug and alcohol policy is created and available to all employees, with all disciplinary actions and consequences clearly stated. For every drug test administered, there must be documentation as to why it was necessary and how the test was performed, with results held in confidence. In addition, companies must be consistent in how they deal with workers who test positive (Carrell & Heavrin, 2007).

Illegal drugs at work will almost always result in a company's standard disciplinary procedure. If the employee does not pose a safety threat and does not hold a highly sensitive position, a written reprimand might be appropriate for a first offense (Payton, 2010). If the employee endangers the physical safety of others or has a chronic drug problem, one option is to suspend the worker until he or she successfully completes a treatment program. Some employers, however, opt for a zero-tolerance policy under these circumstances and immediately suspend and then terminate the employee. Employers cannot force workers to take a drug test against their will (Carrell & Heavrin, 2007). However, an employee who refuses to take a drug test can be fired for that reason, as long as the employer had a solid basis for asking the employee to submit to the drug test in the first place.


Carrell, M.R., & Heavrin, C. (2007). Labor relations and collective bargaining: Cases, practice, and law (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Payton, C. (2010). Positive testing. (Cover story). Occupational Health, 62(9), 21-23.

4. Compare and contrast the issues in private sector subcontracting to privatization in the public sector.

Over the past 15 years, U.S. corporations have looked to subcontracting -- giving work to outside firms, in order to gain access to both better production techniques and cheaper labor and stave off foreign competition (Helper, 1990). The impact of subcontracting has already been quite severe for unionized workers, resulting in job loss and salary cuts. Unions are responding to this challenge by using both collective bargaining and public policy mechanisms (Carrell & Heavrin, 2007). They may limit subcontracting, negotiate income security, and look to insourcing. Unions may try to ban subcontracting outright, or if they accept outsourcing, they may try to force employers to pay the costs of dislocating workers. A more middle-ground strategy is a "productivity coalition." The union offers to trade relaxed work rules, suggestions for improved operations, and sometimes wage concessions in return for guarantees of job security and increased investment by management (Clark, 1988).

Similarly, privatization can pose a threat to public unions and their members. In recent years, outsourcing full-time public sector jobs has become less of a corporate tactic and more commonplace in the civil service arena (Carrell & Heavrin, 2007). Similar to private sector subcontracting, management benefits from low-wage labor, access to better production techniques, and reduced capital expenditures. In response, public sector unions now negotiate agreement language that protects employees from job loss due to privatization.


Carrell, M.R., & Heavrin, C. (2007). Labor relations and collective bargaining: Cases, practice, and law (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ:…[continue]

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