Monday, February 08, 2010


Michael Barone discussed unionism, and provides some harsh numbers for both public and private sector unions.

On private sector unionism, which is adversarial in its nature:
Adversarial unionism tends to produce rigid work rules that retard adaptation and innovation. We have had a three-decade experiment pitting UAW work rules against the flexible management of Japanese- and European-owned nonunion auto firms.

The results are in. Yes, clueless management at the Detroit firms for years ignored problems with product quality and made boneheaded investment mistakes. But adversarial unionism made it much, much harder for Detroit to produce high-quality vehicles than it was for nonunionized companies.

As economist Barry Hirsch points out, nonunion manufacturing employment rose from 12 million to 14 million between 1973 and 2006. In those years, union manufacturing employment dropped from 8 million to 2 million. "Unionism," Hirsch writes, "is a poor fit in a dynamic, competitive economy."

Moreover, federal laws passed since the 1950s now protect workers from racial and sex discrimination, safety hazards and pension failure. They don't need unions to do this anymore.(emphasis added)
On private sector unions:
Public-sector unionism is a very different animal from private-sector unionism. 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 such as 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.

Barack Obama is probably the most union-friendly president since Lyndon Johnson. He has obviously been unable to stop the decline of private-sector unionism. But he is doing his best to increase the power -- and dues income -- of 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 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.(emphasis added)
I paused at that last statistic, nearly 1 in 5 government workers makes a six figure salary PLUS a very generous benefits package paid for a the taxpayers' expense. That seems to be somewhat top heavy in terms of salary structure, but given that most government pay is tied to length of service as much as it is tied to structural seniority, means that there are secretaries and administrative assistants who make six figures because they simply stayed in their job. True institutional experience is no doubt valuable, but being in one place too long engenders a philosophy of maintaining the status quo and thus their job, that actually serving the public.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

No comments: