What Public-Sector Unions Have Wrought
Organized labor in the United States achieved a milestone in 2009 that once would have been unthinkable: for the first time, union members working in government jobs outnumbered those working in the private sector.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of unionized private employees fell last year to 7.4 million. That represented just 7.2 percent of the private-sector labor force, the lowest proportion in over a century. By contrast, union membership in the public sector topped 7.9 million, or 37.4 percent of all federal, state, and local government jobs. The share of government workers belonging to labor unions, in other words, is more than five times the unionized share of the private sector. Union membership in private industry peaked at 35.7 percent in 1953 and has dwindled ever since. In the public sector, unions surpassed that level years ago and show no sign of weakening.
About the Author
Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for the Boston Globe.