Government Workers Now the Majority Among U.S. Union Members

A startling statistical development emerged last Friday, that you may have missed if you weren’t paying attention too closely. New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that for the first time in U.S. history there are more union members working in government than working in the private sector.

I sat down yesterday for a 9-minute iVoices podcast conversation with Brian Johnson, executive director of the Alliance for Worker Freedom, to explore the effects of the changing labor movement on the fight for liberty and limited government. Follow the link here or click on the play button below to listen:

Brian’s recent Washington Times op-ed makes the case that “growing government union membership is at war with the idea of shrinking government or even delivering today’s level of government services with the same tax rates in the future.”

The Heritage Foundation blog elaborates on why this is a big deal:

So what? Why should Americans care if unions are now dominated by workers who get their paychecks from governments, instead of workers who get their paychecks from private firms? There’s one simple reason: private firms face competition; governments don’t.

Collective bargaining, the anti-trust exemption at the heart of a union’s power, was created to help workers seize their “fair share” of business profits. But if a union ends up extracting a contract from a private firm that eats up too much of the profits, then that firm will be unable to reinvest those profits and will lose out to competitors. But when a union extracts a generous contract from a government, the answer is always higher taxes or borrowing to pay for the bloated spending. And make no mistake: unionized government worker compensation is bloated.

Steelworkers, auto factory workers, carpenters, truck drivers: These once were the face of the union movement. Now it’s teachers, police officers and government bureaucrats. An important change overlooked at our own peril.

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