Commentary

State Budget Solutions Issues New Report on Collective Bargaining Reform

As voters in Wisconsin were going to the polls yesterday to defend Gov. Walker’s reforms, our colleagues over at State Budget Solutions (statebudgetsolutions.org) released a new report on collective bargaining reform that offers a useful primer on the subject.

The report starts with three lessons learned from Wisconsin’s recent experience:

1. The power of the government-sector unions and their impact on elections is greatly overestimated. With a victory for Gov. Walker, Wisconsin Government employee union will have suffered their fifth major defeat since March 2011.

2. When given a choice, government employees will quit their union in large numbers.

3. Government employees’ salaries and benefits, particularly pensions, are financially unsustainable in most states and collective bargaining reform is needed.

Report author Bob Williams—a former Washington State legislator and Government Accountability Office auditor—then goes on to outline the problems with public-sector collective bargaining, offer a series of collective bargaining reform options, and provide interesting background information on the history of collective bargaining at the federal level.

One interesting nugget from the report: collective bargaining reform is not a partisan issue, as defenders of the unsustainable public sector status quo would have you believe. We’re simply seeing hung-over politicians of all stripes waking up from a decades-long drunken spending stupor and facing the harsh reality of basic mathematics.

Collective bargaining curbs reform spread across the country in the past two years – 820 bills were introduced this year on collective bargaining according to the National Conference of State Legislators. The left is concerned about the 11 states with Democrat Governors who pushed for labor concessions. Democrat Governors in California; Connecticut; Hawaii; Illinois; Maryland; Massachusetts; Minnesota; New Hampshire New York; Oregon; and Washington pushed for collective bargaining reform.

Read the whole thing here.

Leonard Gilroy is Senior Managing Director of the Pension Integrity Project at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets. The Pension Integrity Project assists policymakers and other stakeholders in designing, analyzing and implementing public sector pension reforms.

The project aims to promote solvent, sustainable retirement systems that provide retirement security for government workers while reducing taxpayer and pension system exposure to financial risk and reducing long-term costs for employers/taxpayers and employees. The project team provides education, reform policy options, and actuarial analysis for policymakers and stakeholders to help them design reform proposals that are practical and viable.

In 2016 and 2017, Reason's Pension Integrity Project helped design, negotiate and draft pension reforms for the state of Arizona's Public Safety Personnel Retirement System and Corrections Officer Retirement Plan, which both passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the state legislature and were signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey.

Gilroy is also the Director of Government Reform at Reason Foundation, researching privatization, public-private partnerships, infrastructure and urban policy issues.

Gilroy has a diversified background in policy research and implementation, with particular emphases on competition, government efficiency, transparency, accountability, and government performance. Gilroy has worked closely with legislators and elected officials in Texas, Arizona, Louisiana, New Jersey, Utah, Virginia, California and several other states and local governments in efforts to design and implement market-based policy approaches, improve government performance, enhance accountability in government programs, and reduce government spending.

In 2010 and 2011, Gilroy served as a gubernatorial appointee to the Arizona Commission on Privatization and Efficiency, and in 2010 he served as an advisor to the New Jersey Privatization Task Force, created by Gov. Chris Christie.

Gilroy is the editor of the widely-read Annual Privatization Report, which examines trends and chronicles the experiences of local, state, and federal governments in bringing competition to public services. Gilroy also edits Reason's Innovators in Action interview series, which profiles public sector innovators in their own words, including former U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani and more.

Gilroy's articles have been featured in such leading publications as The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, New York Post, The Weekly Standard, Washington Times, Houston Chronicle, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Arizona Republic, San Francisco Examiner, San Diego Union-Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Sacramento Bee and The Salt Lake Tribune. He has also appeared on CNN, Fox News Channel, Fox Business, CNBC, National Public Radio and other media outlets.

Prior to joining Reason, Gilroy was a senior planner at a Louisiana-based urban planning consulting firm. He also worked as a research assistant at the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research at Virginia Tech. Gilroy earned a B.A. and M.A. in Urban and Regional Planning from Virginia Tech.