New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that a majority of American union members now work for the government. The pattern of unions adding members in government while losing members in the private sector accelerated during the recession. The typical union member now works in the Post Office, not on the assembly line.
Representing government employees has changed the union movement's priorities: Unions now campaign for higher taxes on Americans to fund more government spending. Congress should resist government employee unions' self-interested calls to raise taxes on workers in the private sector. . .
What is newsworthy, however, is another figure reported by the BLS: 52 percent of all union members work for the federal or state and local governments, a sharp increase from the 49 percent in 2008. A majority of American union members are now employed by the government; three times more union members now work in the Post Office than in the auto industry. .
In 2009, government employees came to constitute the majority of union members for two reasons. First, union membership rates fell in the private sector. Unionized companies do poorly in the marketplace and lose jobs relative to their nonunion competitors. . . Competition undermines unions.
Government employees, however, face no competition as the government never goes out of business. As a result, government employees organize at far higher rates. A full 37.4 percent of government employees belonged to unions in 2009, . .
This shift has transformed the labor movement. Some historians argue that unions were created to prevent profit-minded employers from exploiting workers and to win workers a share of business profits. However, neither of these purposes makes sense in government. . .
Collective bargaining gives government employees the power to tell voters how to spend their tax dollars instead of the other way around. . .
Not until the 1960s did federal, state, and local governments change the law to permit government employees to collectively bargain with taxpayers. Now unions primarily represent the government--a development that has shifted the labor movement's focus from redistributing business profits to getting more from taxpayers.Representing government employees has turned unions into determined supporters of tax increases and more government spending. Higher taxes mean the government can hire more workers and pay higher wages. As a result, public-sector unions have become a potent force lobbying for higher taxes and against spending reductions across America: . .