Obama Grows Government Unions At Taxpayers' Expense

Obama and his SEIU Purple Shirts

In yet another sign of the ever-increasing size of Big Government, for the first time in the history of the United States, government employees now make up a majority of labor union members.

In a commentary for The Washington Examiner, Michael Barone reports that private-sector labor unions, such as the United Auto Workers, have shrunk to only 834,000 members so that they now represent only 7.2% of all private-sector employees — down from the all-time peak of 36% in 1953-54.
In contrast, from near zero in the 1950s, public-sector union membership keeps growing. Last year, 37.4% of public sector employees were union members. The largest public-sector union is the pro-Obama SEIU (Service Employees International Union), the same SEIU that sent its purple t-shirted members to intimidate tea partiers at townhall meetings across the United States last summer. Not coincidentally, head of SEIU Andrew Stern was also the most frequent White House visitor last year. He logged 21 visits in the first 6 months of Obama’s tenancy in the White House.
Private-sector unionism is partly responsible for the decline of American manufacturing, especially in the Big Three auto industry, because it is adversarial and designed to extract premium wages and benefits from employers, while producing rigid work rules that retard adaptation and innovation.
Public-sector unionism is even worse. It is not adversarial but collusive. Public-sector unions strive to elect their management, which in turn can extract money from taxpayers to increase wages and benefits — and can promise pensions that future taxpayers will have to fund.
The results are plain to see. States like New York, New Jersey and California, where public-sector unions are strong, now face enormous budget deficits and pension liabilities. In such states, the public sector has become a parasite sucking the life out of the private-sector economy. Not surprisingly, Americans have been steadily migrating out of such states and into states like Texas, where public-sector unions are weak and taxes are much lower.
Obama’s White House Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel said that “you should never let a serious crisis go to waste.” Indeed, Obama and the Dems are doing precisely that and have used the financial crisis to expand the public sector and the public-sector unions.
One-third of last year’s $787 billion stimulus package was aid to state and local governments — an obvious attempt to bolster public-sector unions. And it was a successful one: While the private sector has lost 7 million jobs, the number of public-sector jobs has risen. The number of federal government jobs has been increasing by 10,000 a month, and the percentage of federal employees earning over $100,000 has jumped to 19 percent during the recession.
Obama and his party are acting in collusion with unions that contributed something like $400,000,000 to Democrats in the 2008 campaign cycle. Public-sector unionism tends to be a self-perpetuating machine that extracts money from taxpayers and then puts it on a conveyor belt to the Democratic Party.
But it may not turn out to be a perpetual-motion machine. Public-sector employees are still heavily outnumbered by those who depend on the private sector for their livelihoods. The next Congress may not be as willing as this one has been to bail out state governments dominated by public-sector unions. Voters may bridle at the higher taxes needed to pay for $100,000-plus pensions for public employees who retire in their 50s. Or they may move, as so many have already done, to states like Texas.
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Bob A
Bob A
10 years ago

Public sector jobs should not be allowed to be unionized! I didn’t know they could be until this article.