Book Review

Labor Relations in Education

Policies, Politics and Practices

by Todd A. DeMitchell, Rowman & Littlefield Education, Lanham, Md., 2010, 202 pp., $34.95 softcover

 

In Labor Relations in Education, Todd A. DeMitchell, a professor of education and justice studies at the University of New Hampshire, traces the history of collective bargaining from its origins in Wisconsin to the landmark case supporting the right of public employees to organize and join a union (McLaughlin v. Tilendis, 1968).

 

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In addition to outlining the lineage of bargaining, DeMitchell methodically defines the basic vocabulary, processes, procedures and usable templates inherent in labor negotiations, making them fully accessible.

He also discusses the administrative reality that collective bargaining (1) formalizes relationships between teachers and administrators; (2) standardizes teachers’ work because the contract defines the working conditions for all teachers covered under the agreement; and (3) ensures equity when the process is understood as a rule-making activity and enforcement is upheld by both management and the union.

A former superintendent, DeMitchell vividly reminds administrators the first business of the union is to secure material benefits for their members, adding, “(A)t the end of the day of bargaining, there is no magic formula or perfect process that moves everyone to win-win bargaining.”

This book cogently teaches and prepares administrators for the nuances, rigors and challenges of collective bargaining.

Reviewed by Leon T. Hobbs, president/CEO, Hobbs Leadership Team, Flowery Branch, Ga.