-By Warner Todd Huston
It is the most important hill that folks interested in good government have yet to conquer and that is the elimination of government employee unions. The Heritage Foundation reports the sad and disgusting news that the majority of union members now work for government, an intolerable situation to say the least.
The BLS’s annual report on union membership shows the labor movement’s decline in membership continued in 2009. While a full 23.0 percent of Americans belonged to labor unions in 1980, by 2008 only 12.4 percent did. In 2009, that figure dropped slightly to 12.3 percent. There are now 15.3 million union members in the United States, 770,000 fewer than in 2008.
…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.
This is a travesty. Unions are one of the main causes of budgets going into the red in states all across the country. The incestuous relationship between politicians greedy for union political contributions and unions donating to them in order to get ever grater pay and benefits (all conveniently cutting out the will of the voters and destroying good, fiscally responsible government) has about ruined this country. The Heritage Foundation’s piece also details how these greedy, needless, corrupt unions are spending millions of dollars to campaign to raise your taxes. You see, without higher taxes, these greedy union thugs can’t continue to push their bought and paid for politicians to continue raising union pay scales, benefits, and pension rates — all of which are exceeding that of the private sector at this point.
Heritage writer James Sherk suggests that Congress reject union demands for higher taxes and should also reject “proposals to increase union membership in the government.” I’d go further. Governments, all governments, should make unions for public employees again illegal like they once were.
It may not be well known but public employee unions did not exist prior to 1958 when New York Mayor Robert Wagner (Dem.) first signed what he called “The Little Wagner Act” to allow city employees to collectively bargain with the government. A few years later, in 1962, President John Kennedy followed that with Executive Order 10988 that did the same thing for federal employees.
It has become wholly obvious, though, that unionizing government employees is one of the worst ideas ever. In fact, much as I dislike Franklin D. Roosevelt and disagree with the socialist policies that he foisted on America as “helping” her, I have to agree with him on public employee unions. He was against them because he clearly saw the conflict of interest that it would cause.
Our goal as American voters should be to work towards eliminating these destructive unions, not reforming them.