To Collect and Preserve: The State of State-Level CBA Collections in the U.S.

6 May

If you’re going to be at Fighting Inequality: the Joint Conference of the Labor and Working-Class History Association and the Working-Class Studies Association or the SLA Annual Conference, be sure to check out Aliqae Geraci and I presenting on the research project that we’ve been working on for the last two years! (Seriously, we contacted hundreds of state agencies for this thing. We were not messing around at all, here.)

We’ll be presenting the research in different ways to the two very different audiences, so here are both write-ups.

For LAWCHA/WCSA:

Battles over public sector collective bargaining rights have played out on the news, in legislative sessions, and through public demonstration. However, these public policy debates often occur without ready public access to the CBAs that trace and describe the working conditions and employment relationships in dispute. Inspired by Cornell University’s digital collection of New York State CBAs, and researchers seeking similar state collections, the authors conducted a national survey of each state’s CBA collection policies, mapping regulations and collections, and identifying historical scope and degree of public accessibility. The survey revealed dramatic variation across states, requiring deeper investigation of the impact of information gaps on working class participation in public discourse. The authors discuss potential avenues for information policy reform, and outline best practices for state agencies and labor organizations to partner with libraries to create accessible collections that comprehensively document public sector collective bargaining.

And for SLA:

Through collaboration with the New York State Public Employment Relations Board, Cornell University’s Martin P. Catherwood Library has established a collection of public sector collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), including 7,000 held in their open access digital repository, DigitalCommons@ILR. ILR Research Librarian Aliqae Geraci and Digital Projects Coordinator Jim DelRosso will present their preliminary research findings of a 50-state survey identifying and evaluating similar state-level collections of public sector CBAs, and discuss standards and best practices for libraries seeking to develop publicly accessible collections in partnership with government agencies.

Program Takeaways

  1. Participants will be briefed on key issues surrounding public sector labor relations in the United States in order to interpret the findings of the state-level survey of collective bargaining agreement collections and assess their comprehensiveness and accessibility.
  2. Participants will map existing state-level print and digital CBA collections in order to strategically identify potential partnerships and collaborative opportunities between libraries, labor unions, and government bodies.

So if you’re going to be at LAWCHA/WCSA in Washington, DC at the end of May, or at SLA in June, please join us! We promise you’ll learn something.

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