How Massachusetts Can Stop the Public Sector Virus by Learning from Its Own Experiences

Remarks given at Boston 101 Event "Collective Bargains: Rebuilding and Repairing Public Sector Labor Relations in Difficult Times," on February 23, 2011

February 24, 2011
Thomas A. Kochan (George M. Bunker Professor, MIT Sloan School of Management Co‐Director, MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research)

America is in the early stages of what could be the largest labor protest of our lifetime. Starting in Wisconsin the battle over public service wages, benefits, and collective bargaining rights is now spreading like a virus to Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey and God knows where next. So, like exposure to any virus we have two questions on our mind: Will we get it here in Massachusetts? Is there a treatment that makes us immune and stops it from spreading around the country?

I believe we have within our own experience the potential treatment and immunity. But we must act proactively now. We can build on our own positive experiences in confronting public sector challenges over the past year and chart a new course for tackling public sector challenges here and in doing so lead the nation on a new course for public sector labor‐management relations. The way to do so is to put the modern tools of negotiations, problem solving, and political leadership to work. I will give it a name: Call it the Grand Bargain 2.0. More >