The authors, Associate Professors at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business, acknowledge the financial support of the Ford Foundation and U.S. Department of Labor (Manpower Administration) in connection with this research. The paper is part of a larger study of labor relations and manpower utilization in American local governments currently being conducted by the authors and their colleague, Professor James W. Kuhn, under the auspices of the Conservation of Human Resources Project, Columbia University.
Although substantial changes have occurred in public sector labor relations during the past decade, the literature dealing with unionization and collective bargaining in government, while growing rapidly in volume, remains essentially static in terms of issues addressed, conceptualization, and methodology. This literature largely is preoccupied with normative and processual issues; in particular, it lacks empirical examination of the impacts of collectively bargained decisions on government.
The normative and processual orientation of the literature is perhaps understandable but nevertheless unfortunate. The intensity of the ideological heat generated by the early (and ongoing) argument between "industrial" democrats and "political" democrats over the propriety of public sector bargaining not only produced an atmosphere more conducive to normative assertion than empirical investigation, but also stimulated a widespread (and again ongoing) search for some set of procedures, laws and institutions—in short, a process—by which bilateralism could be introduced into public sector labor relations. As a result of these preoccupations, important policy decisions are being reached in an empirical void. This practice, of course, violates the policy scientist's general dictum that impact analysis is a necessary ingredient in both policy making and policy evaluation.