University of Pittsburgh
March 14, 2011

Pitt Labor-Management Expert John Delaney Is Available to Discuss Recent Challenges by State Governments to Labor Unions

Business school dean says it would be wise to work with public employee unions to establish a “new normal” for workplaces during austere times
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—Pitt labor-management expert John T. Delaney is available to discuss the ongoing developments surrounding threats to public-employee unions in Wisconsin, Ohio, and other states. Delaney is the dean of the University of Pittsburgh’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration. He is a nationally known scholar in negotiation, dispute resolution, and labor-management relations. 

Delaney says government expenses substantially exceed revenues in virtually every state and many local municipalities. In order to control costs and make government sustainable, government action is needed. 

“Some of the problems are obvious: generous pensions, often dictated by state law, which have accumulated large unfunded liabilities; rising health care costs; and limitations on the ability to raise taxes,” says Delaney. “Other problems are less evident but equally important: limitations on management control of the workforce—e.g., laws restricting the ability of governmental units to lay off employees, rules allowing union trial boards to determine whether employees can be disciplined or discharged; restrictions on private competition with public service providers; and lack of vision in encouraging private sector job growth.” 

Delaney says the sensible way to address the problems Pennsylvania and other states face is to follow a process that allows input from everyone affected. 

“Government officials will need to make cuts in the budget and bargain hard with unions, says Delaney. “It may also be necessary to change laws mandating certain types of pension plans, specific methods for managing the workforce, and how workplace disputes are resolved. It would be wise to work with affected parties, including public employee unions, to establish the ‘new normal’ workplace policies that are required in an age of austerity.” 

Delaney has published broadly, including contributions to the Journal of Labor Research, The Ethics of Human Resources and Industrial Relations (ILR Press, 2005), and the International Handbook of Trade Unions (Edward Elgar Pub, 2005). He is also the coauthor of Public Sector Labor Relations (Lexington Books, 1988). Delaney earned his bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in industrial relations at LeMoyne College and his master’s and doctoral degrees in labor and industrial relations at the University of Illinois. 

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3/14/11/tmw/lks

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