Since 2011, a number of states have amended their collective bargaining laws covering state and local government employees. Debate rages about whether the goal of the proponents of change was to address budget shortfalls or weaken labor unions. Regardless of motive, legislatures in several states accomplished the goal of severely limiting or eliminating collective bargaining for some or all employees. The question facing unions, employers and employees in those states is “what now?” An answer may lie in looking to southern states like Virginia and North Carolina that have historically prohibited or severely restricted bargaining. This article explores the lessons that that might lie in the labor relations climates there for parties in states facing new and unfamiliar landscapes.The article first discusses labor relations in the southern states, with a primary emphasis on Virginia, and analyzes the factors that contribute to successful union-management relations where they exist. Then, the article considers how these factors might apply in states with newly enacted changes to their collective bargaining laws, focusing specifically on those states that eliminated or virtually eliminated bargaining rights. The article concludes that while labor relations might change in those states, unionization will survive as employees continue to seek a voice in the workplace.
Ann C. Hodges, Southern Solutions for Wisconsin Woes, 43 U. Tol. L. Rev. 633 (2012).