Teachers’ collective bargaining rights correlate with lower employment and earnings for students later in adult life, concludes a study by Michael F. Lovenheim and Alexander Willén in Education Next.
They compared student outcomes in states that enacted a duty-to-bargain law to outcomes in states that did not change their collective-bargaining policies.
There was no effect on the amount of schooling students completed.
However, “students who spent all 12 years of grade school in a state with a duty-to-bargain law earned an average of $795 less per year and worked half an hour less per week as adults than students who were not exposed to collective-bargaining laws.” Those educated in duty-to-bargain states were less likely to be employed and those with jobs were more likely to work in low-skilled occupations.
Why? They’re not sure.
Perhaps collective bargaining has made it more difficult for school districts to dismiss ineffective teachers or to allocate teachers among schools. Or perhaps the political influence of teachers unions at the state level has interfered with efforts to improve school quality.
More than 60 percent of U.S. teachers work under a union contract, but some states, such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Tennessee, have moved to restrict teachers’ bargaining rights.