Older Americans may fondly remember bygone days when some labor unions played a positive role in our private enterprise economy. In the 1950s, many unions were anti-Communist and expelled Communist agitators. Today's unions, by contrast, are organizations that promote big-government solutions to every problem. That's because the membership of powerful unions has dramatically changed.
Today, the majority of union members are not in private industry. More than 50% of union members are now federal or state government employees. Together, they collect $14 billion annually in dues. The political power of these unions of government workers is a major reason why government spending is now out of control. Nationwide, only 7% of private companies are unionized. However, 41% of government employees are unionized.
These government workers unions work for a lot of questionable projects other than increasing their own pay. The government workers union known as SEIU (Service Employees International Union) spent $500,000 and the California teachers union spent $1,250,000 to defeat Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative to protect traditional marriage. After the voters approved Prop 8, over 50 unions signed a brief asking the courts to overturn the will of the people. Another of the major government employee unions is the National Education Association, which exerts tremendous influence on education policies and spending.
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