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Compact case
Published by: Harvard Kennedy School
Published in: 1996

Abstract

Public sector unions are the fastest-growing sector of organized labor in the US, and are key players to be considered by a wide variety of elected and appointed public officials. This case, in contrast to most in both public management and business school collections, is told through the eyes of a labor leader, the executive director of the Ohio state government branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. It traces the evolution of an emerging union philosophy aimed at improving the long-term lot of members through increased productivity and efficiency, goals articulated in Ohio State government through a variation of total quality management techniques. The sense of steady, incremental progress and labor-management cooperation is disrupted, however, when a legislative demand for cost savings turns the state''s Department of Administrative Services into a budget battleground. AFSCME executive director Paul Goldberg must decide how to respond to the immediate crisis in a way that preserves the "quality management" approach in which he believes but also convinces members that the union will continue to stand up for them.

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Abstract

Public sector unions are the fastest-growing sector of organized labor in the US, and are key players to be considered by a wide variety of elected and appointed public officials. This case, in contrast to most in both public management and business school collections, is told through the eyes of a labor leader, the executive director of the Ohio state government branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. It traces the evolution of an emerging union philosophy aimed at improving the long-term lot of members through increased productivity and efficiency, goals articulated in Ohio State government through a variation of total quality management techniques. The sense of steady, incremental progress and labor-management cooperation is disrupted, however, when a legislative demand for cost savings turns the state''s Department of Administrative Services into a budget battleground. AFSCME executive director Paul Goldberg must decide how to respond to the immediate crisis in a way that preserves the "quality management" approach in which he believes but also convinces members that the union will continue to stand up for them.

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