The Rise of Government Labor Unions

The Heritage Foundation blog had an interesting post about government labor unions. According to the blog, “2009 became the first year in American history that a majority of American union members work for the government.”

This is both unsurprising and troubling at the same time. First and foremost, while I have my concerns about the impact of private sector labor unions, the good news is that they ultimately benefit from private sector economic growth (just like the rest of us). To Government labor union members, however, the private sector economy is an irrelevant annoyance. They have absolutely no incentive to care.

Of course, as we have seen recently, government has continued to grow while the private sector is hurting and cutting back. Nowhere is that trend more prevalent than in heavily-unionized private sector industries where high-priced union labor unions have priced their members out of the market. Government knows no such check. That is why they are so dangerous.

New Mexico is an excellent case-study. As the Rio Grande Foundation has pointed out, our public sector work force is extremely bloated. And, as we see from recent efforts of the liberal House of Representatives to not cut government at all, the government labor unions (like AFSCME and The Albuquerque Federation of Teachers) have a very strong grip on New Mexico politicians.

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2 Replies to “The Rise of Government Labor Unions”

  1. I am a former federal government employee, having worked for the IRS, INS and the US Army. I did join the union but only because I wanted dental care benefits which the federal medical plan did not offer (until about two years ago). With the exception of the IRS, union presence was almost non-existent plus they have very little bargaining power.

    When making comparisons between groups its important to look a little deeper. For example, while there is significant differences in pay between the public and private sectors there are also significant differences in the number of college educated/professional positions. I know that within the federal government almost half of all employees have a bachelors degree or higher. That’s not the case with the general population. The federal government has very few unskilled positions while the general population has far larger percentage. Bottomline: The Hertitage comparisons are unfair since it makes the assumption that both groups are equal – which is fantasy not fact.

  2. Federal workers are paid to do nothing. They are paid to add to the count as an employed worker for labor statistics.
    One with a good work ethic would be an outcast in such an environment. Promotions are based on the employees level of education not productivity and they are rarely if ever fired.
    Labor unions are dangerous. Unions pressure employers to hire union members only, a different type of discrimination.
    Unions promote mediocrity and suppress innovation.

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