The Emerging Duty to Bargain in the Public Sector

Whether the public sector is indeed sufficiently different from the private sector to warrant the assumption that private sector precedents should be avoided, or at least modified, is a question that can and has been argued at length; therefore, it will serve no useful purpose to rehash the issue in this Article. Rather, it is probably sufficient to observe that, for the most part, legislators and judges at the federal, state, and municipal levels have assumed that the two sectors are different; as a consequence, the initial legislative and judicial reactions to public sector unionism have been cautious. Arguments about sovereign authority and the unlawful delegation of legislative authority abound in the early cases; the strike proscription was declared as an inviolable principle; and strict limits were imposed on the process and scope of collective bargaining. However, as is frequently the case, the passage of time (coupled with the continued growth of public sector unionism) has apparently caused a mellowing of attitudes.