Unions Gain Heavy Among Government Workers

As we reported a few days ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported its newest stats on union membership for 2008. These stats show that union membership has increased for the second straight year. But where it has increased is of key importance.

The report shows a gain of 428,000 members, the largest in the last 25 years and since such statistics have been gathered. Alarmingly, a rising number of union workers are employed by government.

The union membership rate for public sector workers (36.8 percent) was substantially higher than the rate for private industry workers (7.6 percent). Within the public sector, local government workers had the highest union membership rate, 42.2 percent. This group includes many workers in several heavily unionized occupations, such as teachers, police officers, and fire fighters. Private sector industries with high unionization rates include transportation and utilities (22.2 per-cent), telecommunications (19.3 percent), and construction (15.6 per-cent). In 2008, unionization rates were relatively low in financial activities (1.8 percent) and professional and business services (2.1 percent).

This was a rise from numbers seen in 2007 and previous, as well. State and local government worker unions are steadily on the rise and therein lies the danger to good government. The singular problem with unions and government is that unions do not make for good government.

Let us consider what the role of a union is, here. A union’s job is to get as much for its workers as possible, regardless of good work, regardless of the needs of business or the market place. Unions are not concerned with work, they are concerned with what they can force employers to give away.

Now, couple this unconcern over the quality or outcome of the job with government as the employer. In the case of a union of government workers what we have is an organization that has no interest in what is good for the voter, only in what it can take from him. Worse, this same selfish and unelected power broker can shut down government with the power to strike extorting from the taxpayers endlessly with no accountability to “we the people” that are paying the bills that keep government workers in undue pensions and overly indulgent health care plans.

Unions of government workers are growing at an exponential rate endangering the solvency of state budgets, taking power from the hands of elected officials and every year further eliminating voters from being able to affect their own government at the ballot box.

Unions are antithetical to good government. Its just that simple.

The only other danger more rampant than unfettered unaccountable unions is an activist judiciary.