Unions still wield plenty of power, says attorney Charles Caulkins. He is a partner in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., office of Fisher & Phillips LLP. It is a national law firm that focuses exclusively on labor and employment law for employers, including governments.

Unions are a very active, large and significant factor in the public sector workforce in over half of the states, Caulkins tells GPN.

“Although the number of members compared to the population is small, public sector unions exert significant political influence over elected officials in many locations,” says Caulkins. He notes that many public sector unions provide campaign financing and generate votes for politicians. “This positively affects their relationships with elected officials who decide pay and benefit issues for the members of those public sector unions,” he adds.

Caulkins doesn’t expect to see public sector unions achieving huge recruitment triumphs or other major breakthroughs among government workers in 2016. “I do believe the public sector unions will likely be able to retain their power and influence in 2016, although there are financial pressures, especially concerning unfunded pension liabilities.”

Caulkins advises employers on the development and implementation of preventive labor relations programs, including management education and training, to avoid charges and lawsuits, protect trade secrets, and resolve disputes. He regularly counsels employers on union-related matters. He also handles employment-related litigation and arbitrations before state and federal courts and administrative agencies involving claims of discrimination, wrongful discharge, breach of contract, OSHA and other statutory claims.

The current American City & County-GPN poll on unions in the public sector shows that our audience views unions favorably. Almost half of the 421 voters in our poll say they believe that governments enjoy a higher-quality workforce thanks to unions. A total of 198 votes or 47 percent signaled their belief in the above statement. Half of the total (50 percent or 212 votes) said they agree with the following statement: Governments with unionized workforces have less turnover and steady job performance. Go to this site to cast your ballot on this important issue.

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