Elements of a Labor Policy for the Next Mayor of New York

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In recent years, governors and mayors across the country have sought to cope with the fiscal crises brought on by the budgetary impacts of the Great Recession in two different ways. One approach is to attack public service workers and their unions, making them the scapegoats for all budgetary problems regardless of the facts. These attacks have resulted in a considerable weakening of unions and worker rights and caused both management and labor to divert precious financial and human resources into political battles rather than a search for collaborative solutions. The second response has been for administrations to work collaboratively with their workers and unions to address problems together in new ways. The public is demanding faster, more responsive, and more equitable processes and short and long run solutions. One or the other will shape the future of public sector labor management relations, the economic conditions of public service work, and the efficiency and quality of public services. Therefore, those who value public sector unions and collective bargaining need to demonstrate they can make the second option work better than the first.