Issues & Ideas Forum

The Future of Unionized Government

Click below for a video of the Mackinac Center's Oct. 5, 2011, Issues and Ideas Forum in Lansing.

The forum featured the following experts:

David Masud, a Saginaw-based labor and employment attorney with the Masud Labor Law Group, has over 25 years of experience negotiating hundreds of union contracts, and litigating unfair labor practice charges on behalf of public employers throughout the State of Michigan.

Tom Eaton is the main labor negotiator for Oakland County and is a key member of a leadership team that has kept the county in a financially sound condition when nearby local governments have struggled with deficits and layoffs.

Barbara Ruga is one of the state’s leading experts on collective bargaining in public education. She has 30 years of experience representing school districts and is a widely sought-after trainer for negotiators, having taught bargaining strategy for the Michigan Negotiators Association and the Michigan Association of School Boards.

Paul Kersey, the Mackinac Center's director of labor policy, served as moderator.

DATE: Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011
TIME: Noon - 1 p.m.
LOCATION: Michigan Restaurant Association,
225 W. Washtenaw, Lansing, MI 48933

Collective bargaining for government employees has been a contentious issue, with unions deeply involved in debates over the powers of emergency financial managers, teacher tenure, binding arbitration and, most recently, “freedom to teach.” Work rules and standards that appear in union contracts can affect how government functions, while wages and benefits can make up as much as 80 percent of the cost of government.

As Michigan wades through its economic morass, government employee unions have been at the center of many fierce debates and are likely to feature prominently in ongoing legislative battles. Yet the workings of government labor law remain mysterious, even to political insiders. This panel examined how state labor law works, how it often breaks down, what the Legislature has done so far and what it ought to do next.

The Purpose of the Issues & Ideas Forum

The nature of the legislative process is such that public policy debates are often framed by specific constituencies and political pragmatism rather than by sound principles. By offering a forum for wide-ranging discussion, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy hopes to broaden the debate to include theoretical and philosophical ideals — and how to achieve them. The best interests of Michigan residents can be served only when legislation incorporates our best understanding of legal, economic, psychological, moral and scientific principles.

Deadline for Registration

Any changes in the number of persons attending must be made by Friday, September 30, 2011.


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