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Working Together for Public Service

Cover of "Working Together for Public Service"

This document is the report of The Secretary of Labor's Task Force on Excellence in State and Local Government Through Labor-Management Cooperation.

Material contained in this publication is in the public domain and may be reproduced, fully or partially, without permission of the Federal Government. Source credit is requested but not required. Permission is required only to reproduce any copyright material contained herein.

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This material also is available on the U.S. Department of Labor's Internet homepage.

Thanks to a partnership with two other organizations, electronic copies also are available from:

  1. Martin P. Catherwood Library of the School ofIndustrial & Labor Relations, Cornell University

For sale by the U.S. Govemment Printing Office Superintendent of Documents, Mail Stop: SSOP, Washington, DC 20402-9328 ISBN 0-16-048655-6


Governor James J. Florio
Mayor Jerry Abramson

Submitted to: Robert B. Reich, Secretary
U. S. Department of Labor

Issued May 1996

The Secretary of Labor's Task Force
on Excellence in State and Local Government Through Labor-Management Cooperation

May 28, 1996

The Honorable Robert B. Reich
Secretary of Labor
U.S. Department of Labor
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. Secretary:

In today's climate of taxpayer revolts and hostility toward government in general, perhaps the single most important thing that government can do is to restore faith in its ability to deliver quality services in a cost-effective manner. Clearly needed is a change from more traditional ways of planning and delivering services and the traditional roles of labor and management.

Based upon more than a year of extensive analysis, this Task Force is unanimous in its belief that the movement toward employee participation and cooperation between labor and management offers state and local government an unparalleled opportunity to improve delivery and quality of services.

We have been impressed by the benefits enjoyed by those jurisdictions where workplace innovations are being built upon serious and well-structured employee participation. They are recording measurable improvements in service, cost-effectiveness, productivity, efficiency, quality of worklife and in labor-management relations, and related reform of bureaucracy.

In return, these cities, counties, special districts and states are beginning to be "rewarded" for their service excellence by a public more willing to make necessary investments to help workers and management acquire skills and tools needed to perform in this new and challenging environment.

This report provides not only dozens of examples, but lays out specifics on how to initiate and sustain such workplace practices. It details how roles of labor and management leadership and of key professionals in a highly productive and cooperative public workplace are often quite different than traditional labor, management, and administrative roles. These superior results have emerged from every kind of history, including those with a tradition of problem and crisis. The report calls upon labor and management leaders to be willing to break some molds and take some risks in the pursuit of better public service. Many are already doing so, and their stories are told in the report.

While this cooperative and participatory approach is not yet widespread and not all localities will be able to adopt it, the Task Force is encouraged by the strong interest and actions displayed by workers, their unions, management, public officials and others who influence the workplace.

We appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the effectiveness of public service through this study and look forward to more and more state and local jurisdictions adopting this more fruitful approach to workplace relations and service delivery in state and local government.

Jim Florio, Former Governor, State of New Jersey

Jerry Abramson, Mayor, Louisville, Kentucky


The backbone of the Task Force conclusions comes from visiting and analyzing successful service improvement in dozens of communities and governmental institutions across the country. The Task Force thanks and congratulates the hundreds of state and local government employees, managers, elected of ficials, union leaders and staff and others responsible for these cooperative efforts and who assisted us in learning through their explanations, data and facilitation of Task Force visits.

This report owes much to the writing and editorial talent of Maggie Brown, Seattle, Washington, and benefited from contributions of Doug Marchant and Joy Reynolds of the U.S. Department of Labor. The tireless work and creative problem solving of Leslie Redd of the Cascade Center at the University of Washington kept the entire hearings, research and editorial process on track. No task was too big or too small. The thoughtful and dedicated work of Ed Hilz, U.S. Department of Labor, exemplified the highest traditions of the civil service in pursuit of excellence. The logistics of the Task Force work was complex and Pamela Hayes saw to it that nothing got in the way.

The Task Force also appreciates the many contributions of Rebecca Bennett Crow, David Applebaum, Lisa Osborne Ross, Rickie Harmon and Colleen Young.

Of particular importance in support of the entire activity was the work of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor Charles Richards. He put at the disposal of the Task Force a broad array of personal and institutional knowledge of effective workplace practices, much of it compiled by the Office of the American Workplace.

The Task Force also appreciates the courtesy of the David Lipsky, Dean of the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the Library Director, Stuart Basefsky, who made research and background material available to the Task Force often on short notice. The Task Force is grateful to many other colleagues in the labor, management, neutral and academic communities who were generous with the their time and thoughtful with their input.

Task Force Members
Governor James J. Florio
Mayor Jerry Abramson

Arvid Anderson
Martha Bibbs
Al Bilik
Hezekiah Brown
Lucille Christenson
Mary Hatwood Futrell
Arthur Hamilton
Michael Lipsky
James Mastriani
Beverly Stein
Kent Wong
Kenneth Young

Executive Director
Jonathan Brock

Designated Federal Official
Charles A. Richards

Task Force Staff
Leslie Redd
Task Force Coordinator
Cascade Center for Public Service
University of Washington

Edward Hilz
DOL Task Force Staff Chief
Office of the American Workplace
U.S. Department of Labor

Joy Reynolds
Industrial Relations Specialist
Office of the American Workplace
U.S. Department of Labor

Pamela Hayes
Staff Assistant
Office of the American Workplace
U.S. Department of Labor

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