Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Political Science


John H. Mollenkopf

Committee Members

Frances Fox Piven

Michael Jacobson

Subject Categories

Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Public Policy | Urban Studies


Public sector unions, labor movement, Bill de Blasio, New York City


This dissertation sheds light on how the relations between public employees’ unions and the de Blasio administration shape the design and implementation of local policies in areas of particular concern to public workers. It asks how public sector labor-management relations and public sector employee unions’ political influence affect this mayoral administration’s efforts at policy innovation and administrative practice. In particular, how, if at all, do public employee unions shape the administration’s decisions about the balance between providing public services directly versus contracting them out to nongovernmental organizations? How do these relations affect the direction of institutional reform? This project does not attempt to develop a general model of the political influence of public sector labor unions, but it does identify the potential for and limits to their policy entrepreneurship in an environment that should be unusually supportive. A close examination of three major New York City unions reveals that while these public employees’ unions differ greatly from each other and take varying approaches toward influencing policymaking, they are all constrained by their internal dilemmas and interunion fragmentation, which limit their impact on administrative decision-making. At the same time, the Mayor’s attitude toward the city’s workforce is a significant factor in how much access and power unions have over policy formation.