- This study sought to identify those factors which increased, sustained, or decreased conflict between employees and management in public school districts of Pennsylvania. A public sector employee/management relationships model was refined from the analysis of this study data and included five periods of change from conflict to cooperation. The concepts of activities, interaction, sentiments, and symbols were utilized to analyze and classify data into the five respective periods of employee/management relationships.
Data were collected from five school districts that experienced a teachers' strike of ten or more days between the base period years of 1974-1977. Four participants from each district, two from management and two from the teachers' organization, were interviewed by use of an interview schedule. Each participant was a leader of his respective side during the period of high conflict. Information obtained spanned a ten-year period since the enactment of Act 195 in 1970, which gave public school teachers the right to engage in collective bargaining.
An adversarial relationship between the parties started in the early 1970's at the time the firs teacher contracts were negotiated under Act 195. Items and issues not resolved in earlier contracts reappeared in later negotiations. School boards and superintendents continued their unilateral decision making. Teacher activism increased as teachers sought more inputs at the board level. A period of low conflict between the parties escalated over a series of events and climaxed in a teachers' strike. The high conflict period ended at the conclusion of the strike year. As the parties initiated activities and improved communications to heal the wounds caused by a strike, a transition period yielded to a period of mutual accommodation after individuals who were symbols of the strike were replaced. Good faith bargaining characterized a period of cooperation between the parties as they moved toward bilateral decision making.
Severe conflict as predicted by the public sector model was inevitable and occurred. If negotiators can resolve conflict in its earlier stages and bypass the high conflict stage of the model, then an outcome may be a reduction in the number of teacher strikes.
- Dissertation Note:
- D.ED. The Pennsylvania State University 1982.
- Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 43-01, Section: A, page: 2800.
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