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In Timely Book Release, Colin Powell School Professor Captures the Divisive Issue of Public Union Power

Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership

In Timely Book Release, Colin Powell School Professor Captures the Divisive Issue of Public Union Power

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 
January 14, 2015
 
Daniel DiSalvo’s new book, Government Against Itself: Public Union Power and Its Consequences, examines the impact of one of today’s most contentious issues.
 
Public unions are the subject of a new book by political scientist Daniel DiSalvo, titled Government Against Itself: Public Union Power and Its Consequences. Released this month by Oxford University Press, Government Against Itself is a readable, evenhanded examination of an issue that burst onto the national stage when Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s efforts to reign in public unions catapulted him to national prominence. Since that time, politicians on both sides of the aisle have advocated for setting limits on public union power. At issue, says DiSalvo, an assistant professor at the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at the City College of New York, is whether the power of public unions to bargain collectively can coexist with long term fiscal responsibility.  
 
“Government today costs more but is less effective, and public unions are a major reason why,” DiSalvo says. InGovernment Against Itself, the most comprehensive scholarly examination of the subject to date, DiSalvo carefully distinguishes between public and private unions. The two have different histories and incentive structures, and, importantly, produce different effects. Today, he says, unionized private workers comprise a mere 7 percent of the employed U.S. population. The average American worker is grappling with stagnant wages, shrinking benefits, and long-dismantled pensions, while funding generous lifelong packages for their public union brethren.  
 
Government Against Itself proposes the need to re-evaluate the power of public unions while also documenting the difficulty of change. The answer, DiSalvo suggests, is not to be found in one-size-fits-all prescriptions but rather in incremental reforms that adapt to the particular circumstances of states and cities. He suggests that a major battle is looming over pension reform, especially for midcareer public workers, which will likely involve the courts. But with millions—even billions—of dollars at stake going forward, he says, it’s a question that will be on the table sooner rather than later.  
 
DiSalvo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, focuses his scholarship on American political parties, elections, labor unions, and public policy. In addition to Government Against Itself, he is author of Engines of Change: Party Factions in American Politics, 1868-2010 (Oxford).  
 
About the Colin Powell School
Inaugurated in 2013, the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership comprises the five departments of Anthropology, Economics, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology and dynamic interdisciplinary programs including International Relations, International Studies, Latin American and Latino Studies, Mental Health Counseling, Pre-Law, Public Service Management, Women’s Studies, and the Skadden, Arps Honors Program for Legal Studies. The School offers a wide variety of traditional and interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate degrees and houses the Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology offered by the CUNY Graduate Center. The Colin Powell School’s hallmark values of service and leadership permeate every aspect of its work and animate City College’s unflagging and historic commitment to access and excellence. 
 
About The City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. More than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture; the School of Education; the Grove School of Engineering; the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, and the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership. U.S. News, Princeton Review and Forbes all rank City College among the best colleges and universities in the United States.