Thursday, September 9, 2010

The New Face of the Union Movement: Government Employees

Published on September 1, 2010 by James Sherk

The American union movement has reached a historic milestone—more union members currently work for the government than for private businesses. As a result, the union movement’s priorities have shifted. Because taxes fund government pay and benefits, unions are now pushing for tax increases across the country. The union movement that once campaigned to raise private-sector workers’ wages has transformed into a government union movement that campaigns to raise their taxes.

New Government Labor Movement

The American labor movement marked a historic shift in 2009. For the first time in U.S. history, more union members worked for the government than worked in the private sector. The U.S. Postal Service employs three times as many union members as the domestic auto industry.[1] Table 1 shows union membership in the United States in 2009 and through the first seven months of 2010.

Overall union membership dropped again in the first half of 2010: down by 603,000 members to 11.9 percent of all employees. Private-sector and public-sector unions both lost members. Private-sector unions lost 323,000 members, dropping to 7 percent of the private-sector workforce. A smaller proportion of private-sector workers belong to unions now than at any point since the Supreme Court upheld the National Labor Relations Act. Union membership also fell by 281,000 members in government, dropping by 1.7 percent of the government workforce.
However, well over one-third (35.7 percent) of government employees still belong to a union. The 7.6 million union members who work for the government make up 51.7 percent of all union members in the United States. The new face of the union movement is the clerk at the Department of Motor Vehicles, not the worker on the assembly line. FULL STROY

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