Intended Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctorate in Public Administration (DPA)


David Schultz


Jim Scheibel

Committee Member

Charles Davis



While unions have made up a significant proportion of the government workforce in all areas of employment; there has been minimal research of any kind on how unions affect government service. This lack of research is disturbing during a time when states are taking critical stands on union existence and authority. After years of shrinking unions in the private sector and growing membership in the public sector these government decisions are reversing that trend. Without research these decisions are being made without sound facts which have left constituents with limited knowledge in which to agree or disagree with those political decisions.

We know that unions’ increase wages, increase retention, lead to higher productivity, ensure stability during economic downturns, provide wage equity for blue collar workers to white collar workers. Also, research has consistently found that union workers are less satisfied than non-union workers yet are less likely to leave there place of employment. This contradiction also leads to many further research questions; are satisfaction surveys measuring appropriately? Or are the research studies controlling for the appropriate variables

This dissertation asked the question: Does union affiliation affect employee engagement in a public sector workforce. The researcher was able to control for job responsibilities by using a sample of Head Start employees who had identical job responsibilities but worked in organizations where the entire workforce was either union or non-union. This also controlled for the affects the union may have on an entire organization if union and non-union staff worked together and were studied in that environment.

The results show that union employees under the age of 35 show lower levels of engagement than non-union employees at a significant level. Union employees 35 years and older have the same level of engagement as their non-union age peers.

There are practical implications to the findings of this research. For management it means that in order to improve engagement of employees in a union environment who are younger, different avenues for voice may need to be developed.








School of Business Student Theses and Dissertations