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REPORT: Government Achieving Savings, Social Gains from Labor-Management Partnerships

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A new report from the Jobs with Justice Education Fund finds that instead of using collective bargaining as a boogeyman, some companies are turning to it as a way to solve complex labor-management problems.  The report, Improving Government Through Labor-Management Collaboration and Employee Ingenuity, focuses on how public unions are working together with management to improve the way the government runs.

Researched by Erin Johansson, Research Director of the JWJ Education Fund, the report cites institutions such as the Ohio State University, the FAA, and the City of Phoenix as those using collective bargaining to improve governmental relations.  This has helped reduce costs and created more effective strategies for legislative policies.

Key findings from the report include:

• The Federal Aviation Administration and National Air Traffic Controllers Association worked together to successfully roll out new technology at 17 of 20 air traffic control centers, saving millions of dollars of software development costs.
• The Naval Sea Command and AFL-CIO Metal Trades Council implemented a system for improving productivity that proved successful enough at reducing inefficiencies that it was expanded to all four shipyards.
• Charlotte County Public Schools partnered with its unions to tackle rising health-care costs by creating a self-funded health plan with a free clinic for employees and their families.
• The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Patent Office Professional Association developed a new system for managing patent examiner time. Despite a steady increase in unexamined applications every year since 2009, examiners reduced the backlog of applications by 20 percent between 2009 and 2013.
• The State of Michigan and the United Auto Workers employed “lean techniques” to reduce lobby wait times for social services clients from three hours to 30 minutes.
• The Cleveland Public Library and Service Employees International Union developed a system for transferring library employees to avoid layoffs and maintain library hours during a recent budget crisis.
• The City of Phoenix worked with a coalition of unions to create an Innovation and Efficiency Task Force, which has saved the city nearly $60 million annually since it began in 2009.
• Ohio State University partnered with the Communications Workers of America to encourage employee participation in a wellness program, which led to a quadrupling of union member participation.
• Colorado Workers for Innovative and New Solutions, a union representing Colorado state mental health employees, is convening state and community representatives to proactively address changes to the provision of mental health care.

Read the full report.


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