A JMC Webinar: Daniel DiSalvo on Public Sector Unions and Accountability

1919 Boston police strike

JMC Webinar: Daniel DiSalvo on “The Problem of Government Labor Relations: From Party Machines to Public Sector Unions”


In a virtual discussion on June 25, 2020, faculty partner Daniel DiSalvo (Professor and Chair of Politics, City College of New York) discussed the current role of American public sector unions and their history and controversies:

Do public sector unions prevent government workers from being held accountable? Or do they rightly protect the interests of those who serve us?

Several state governments, beginning with Wisconsin in 1959, have adopted collective bargaining statues for public employees that facilitate the unionization of public workers. By the 1980s, public employee unions were the mechanism by which the political power of government employees was affected.

After three decades of relative stability in this system, government-labor relations exploded as a subject of intense political controversy in 2011. For the last decade, they have been at the top of many state legislative agendas and the subject of litigation in state and federal courts, including the Supreme Court.

Most recently, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, police unions have been in the national spotlight. It is not their pay or benefits at issue, but the job protections negotiated into their union contracts. Such complexity in these contracts frustrates attempts to evaluate the effectiveness of public programs and undermines democratic accountability.

Audience members had the chance to submit questions during the event as well.

Thursday, June 25, 2020 • 3:00 PM EDT
A virtual webinar through Zoom. Registration required.

Click here to register >>



Daniel DiSalvoDaniel DiSalvo is Professor and Chair of Political Science in the Colin Powell School at the City College of New York–CUNY and a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His scholarship focuses on American political parties, elections, labor unions, state government, and public policy. He is the author of Engines of Change: Party Factions in American Politics, 1868–2010 (Oxford, 2012) and Government Against Itself: Public Union Power and Its Consequences (Oxford, 2015).

Professor DiSalvo writes frequently for scholarly and popular publications, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, National Affairs, American Interest, The Weekly Standard, and the New York Daily News. He is coeditor of The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics.

This fall, Professor DiSalvo, a JMC faculty partner, will be teaching a JMC-funded graduate level course, “Confronting the Constitution,” for working high school civics teachers in New York City through City College of New York’s School of Education. Modeled on a series of graduate courses for teachers that JMC developed with Lake Forest College, the course offers teachers a rare opportunity to consider the ideas that informed the creation and development of America’s political system and to enliven their curriculum with primary documents.

Professor DiSalvo is a JMC faculty partner.

Learn more about Daniel DiSalvo >>



Mike AndrewsMichael Andrews became president of the Jack Miller Center in 2018, following the retirement of founding president Mike Ratliff. A native of Montana, he received his doctorate in American intellectual history from Tulane University, and his master’s degree, also from Tulane, in European history, with an emphasis on modern Germany. He formerly served on the faculty of St. John’s College, teaching at both the Santa Fe and Annapolis campuses. He has been with the Jack Miller Center since its founding.

Learn more about Michael Andrews >>



Thomas Cleveland joined the Jack Miller Center August 2019 as Academic Programs Officer. He received his B.A. from St. John’s College in Annapolis, where he studied the history of science, math, and philosophy. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Boston College in 2016 with a dissertation on Plato’s accounts of the origins of political life in the Laws. Before joining the Jack Miller Center he was a postdoctoral fellow with the Program on Constitutional Government at Harvard University and taught political theory and American politics at Miami University of Ohio and the College of the Holy Cross.

Learn more about Thomas Cleveland >>



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