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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 78261 Find in a Library
Title: Year They Cancelled Mardi Gras - The New Orleans Police Strike of 1979 (From Police at the Bargaining Table, P 201-221, 1981, by Charles A Salerno - See NCJ-78260)
Author(s): W J Bopp
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 21
Sponsoring Agency: Charles C. Thomas
Springfield, IL 62704
Sale Source: Charles C. Thomas
2600 South First Street
Springfield, IL 62704
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This case study of the New Orleans police strike of 1979 focuses on the sequence of events and the implications for police labor relations in general.
Abstract: New Orleans' police officers went out on strike twice in February 1979. The first walkout was designed to gain recognition of the union, bring the city to the bargaining table, and force agreement on selected economic demands. It lasted 30 hours and was successful. The strike emboldened patrolmen to seek additional concessions and to use the approaching Mardi Gras festivities as a bargaining chip. The walkout was also intended to include ranking officers in the bargaining unit and to compel the city to enter into a collective bargaining agreement with the union. This second strike, which necessitated the cancellation of Mardi Gras activities, lasted 16 days and was unsuccessful. The basic cause of the strikes was police discontent which was allowed to simmer for a long period without attempts at resolution. The New Orleans experience indicates that States lacking collective bargaining agreements for public employees are creating a climate in which strikes flourish. Even in cities which voluntarily negotiate with their police employees in the absence of enabling legislation, confusion and misunderstanding are likely to occur. Trouble is also likely to result when hostility, bitterness, distrust, and cynicism become dominant characteristics of the relationship between police labor and management. In contrast, thoughtful law, with understandable and equitable guidelines, can force the principles to operate within a clearly defined framework and according to universally accepted principles. Another lesson from the New Orleans strike is that a commitment to win rather than to settle a strike can inhibit a rational settlement. Although both sides had legitimate interests to protect, intolerance, bombastic rhetoric, and threats characterized the situation. Since the city government represents, at least theoretically, the community's best leadership, it is reasonable to expect it to adhere to a higher standard of behavior than was demonstrated in New Orleans or than would be expected from a fledgling police union. No references are cited.
Index Term(s): Employer-employee relations; Labor relations; Louisiana; Negotiation; Police unions; Strikes
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