Implicit Public Values and the Creation of Publicly Valuable Outcomes: The Importance of Work and the Contested Role of Labor Unions



The deep importance of work for families and communities means that discussions of public values and debates over public policies to create publicly valuable outcomes must not overlook work, the workplace, and the employment relationship. This article considers the range of public values on work and the options for creating work-related publicly valuable outcomes. Labor unions feature prominently in the analyses because they are the most visible nonmarket institution for creating publicly valuable outcomes relating to work. Ultimately, however, there is no consensus on the desired public values about work or the best ways of fulfilling them. Rather, these are deeply contested issues rooted in contrasting frames of reference on work and the employment relationship, which makes the realization of publicly valuable outcomes challenging.