ABA Journal of Labor & Employment Law
Commentators frequently assert that government employees enjoy a level of protection from discharge far greater than privatesector employees, and, indeed, that government employers are actually unable to fire public employees who perform poorly or engage in misconduct. For example, author Mortimer B. Zuckerman maintained in a 2010 U.S. News & World Report article that there were "two Americas" with a division that "affronts a sense of fairness" between the protections afforded public-sector workers and those available to workers in the private sector.1 He stated, "it is almost impossible to fire government workers except after a long process and only for the most grievous offenses."2 A 2010 editorial in the Star Tribune newspaper concurred and went further to blame the phenomenon directly on arbitration for "mak[ing] it difficult to terminate public employees."3 The newspaper's editorial continued, "[a]rbitration is at the heart of growing concerns about public employees' accountability. Many workers are allowed to appeal disciplinary actions through this controversial process, which frequently upholds firings only in extreme cases or after a lengthy record of unsuccessful efforts to improve performance."4
Laura J. Cooper, Discipline and Discharge of Public-Sector Employees: An Empirical Study of Arbitration Awards, 27 A.B.A. J. Lab. & Emp. L. 195 (2012), available at https://scholarship.law.umn.edu/faculty_articles/304.