• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • In Pictures: The Big Labor Takeover of Big Government

    publicsectorunions2

    As we reported last week, 2009 will mark the first time ever in American history that the majority of union members work for federal, state, or local governments. The percentage shift has been staggering. In 1973 only 17.3% of union members worked for government. Today that number is 51.2%.

    When unions depended on steel plants, coal mines, and automobile factories for their livelihood there was at least a chance that they would support some pro-growth public policies. But now that unions are dependent on the government, and not the private sector, for their membership dues pro-growth policies are not a priority at all. Hence the Big Labor/enviro alliance behind carbon cap and trade tax programs.

    Worse, unions now have every incentive to grow government at the expense of taxpayers and private sector jobs. Manhattan Institute senior fellow Steven Malanga explains:

    In the private sector … employers who are too generous with pay and benefits will be punished. In the public sector, however, more union members means more voters. And more voters means more dollars for political campaigns to elect sympathetic politicians who will enact higher taxes to foot the bill for the upward arc of government spending on workers

    Big Labor has already bankrupted our nation’s once great auto industry. But who will Big Labor turn to when Big Government has bankrupted us?

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    25 Responses to In Pictures: The Big Labor Takeover of Big Government

    1. Freedom of Speech, T says:

      I will never defend so-called “white-collar” criminals like “Bernie Mad Off With The Money.

      But, what this government and many lobbyists are doing to the American People is infinitely worse. It is not just the money, but the deceit and destruction of whatever trust and values are left.

      Then I hear a certain administration official say “We need to trust what they are doing?”

      Is there a legal licensed doctor out there who will volunteer services for conducting lobotomies?

    2. Barb, Florida says:

      Public sector employees should not be allowed to unionize. They work in the public interest, not their own!

    3. Roger S., Ma. says:

      Conn, you ask "But who will Big Labor turn to when Big Government has bankrupted us?"

      Granted that's a rhetorical question. Here's a rhetorical answer, moreover one whose essence we've heard before, from a certain then SC-nominee when asked about "the right to self-defense": "that's of no practical importance to me"! (Or words to that effect.)

      And so it is with the Unions: Long range goals or consequences are not something of great concern to them, with one exception: It is important to keep expanding into the control of as many businesses as they can touch. That goal is most readily advanced by close "cooperation" with and "protection" by big government. A goal which they have followed assiduously for a whole century! They calculate that we'll be in trouble first, long before them, which will only strengthen their hand.

      So far, the course of events has proved them right!

      Here a quote by one of the finest thinkers, ever, on this subject:

      "Then she saw the answer; she saw the secret premise behind their words….She had thought that industrial production was a value not to be questioned by anyone; she had thought that these men's urge to expropriate the factories of others was their acknowledgment of the factories' value."

      "She, born of the industrial revolution, had not held as conceivable, had forgotten along with the tales of astrology and alchemy, what these men knew in their secret, furtive souls;…that so long as men struggle to stay alive, they'll never produce so little but that the man with the club won't be able to seize it and leave them still less, provided millions of them are willing to submit…"

      "…that men who live by pulling levers at an electric switchboard, are not easily ruled, but men who live by digging the soil with their naked fingers, are — that the feudal baron did not need electronic factories in order to drink his brains away out of jeweled goblets…."

      From "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand, 1957, from a scene in which the heroine, Dagny Taggart, at a conference of state economic planners, begins to grasp their motives.

      The real answer is, of course, that Big Labor will become an indistinguishable part of Big Government. Their leaders effectively will become the "Feudal Barons" mentioned above. All who are not, then, in the same compartment with them, will get to shovel the coal on this train. A (slightly) more modern form of the Soviet Union between 1922 and 1991.

    4. Craig, Cali says:

      Agree with Barb…we should disincentivize working for the government in as many ways as possible…certainly monetarily.

    5. Greg B, NY says:

      Unions in general are not necessary any more, and almost always attack their employers for their own problems, with the complicity of left-leaning members of Congress. How else is GM itself responsible for the failures and overruns of the AFL/CIO's pension and retirement plans? It's absolutely illogical and monopolistic, and how it wasn't illegal for GM, a private company, to assume those debts in the first place is Greek to me. Ban the unions.

    6. ballotboxabc says:

      If I understand this correctly it would make allot of sense to me, being a retired union man myself. The union is not into producing a product anymore. they are into union dues and a work force. Getting on the government payroll is the best thing that could happen to a union member and the people running the union are doublely happy. The more people working, the more dues collected. government backing means dollars going to people. people paying dues. the unions have an endless supply of cash to back their favorite candidate. The working people have no choice, It's work to feed the family or else?? When are the people of this country going to figure it out? This administration isn't running the country. they are trying to organize the world.

    7. Bobbie Jay says:

      Chilling last line, Conn! Burr.

      How pathetic people have become in government, unions, government unions, co-op businesses, to prey on their fellow human.

    8. scott c,ca. says:

      let me start by saying my union rep,was just releaved of his duties for inproper use of funds. while i have been out of work most of this year,at 1/4 of yearly pay.they do not look out for the worker anymore! just themselves!

    9. Kirk Matthews says:

      Boy, this article is so misleading. It makes you think that the unions are taking over government.

      While it is true that ~ half of union employees now work in some part of the government … the article does not tell you what % of the government's employees are made up of union employees. My understanding is that it is less than 3%. I don't get it.

    10. Rich Eggleston, Madi says:

      The question is, "When will big business bankrupt the government?" Oh, it already has? AIG? Merrill Lynch? GM? Big health insurance companies are bankrupting the people besides.

      The question Joe Lunchbucket is asking as his health coverage and pension head south, is: who can he turn to? Certainly not big business, which is first in line for government handouts, doesn't say 'thank you,' and doesn't apologize for the mess it's gotten us into.

      Labor, big and small, is the way out of the mess big business and big government have gotten us into.

    11. Bob, Portland, OR says:

      Obama's goal is clear.

      He is now promising labor unions that he will cover their unfunded health and pension benefits with Obama care. It's in the bill.

      His ultimate goal is to convince unemployed workers' to work for the government instead of the private sector in order to create a massive voting block. Acorn, Seiu are working on this now.

      When this happens, our democracy is gone for ever.

      Oh, and taxes on the private sector small business will need to be increased by 30 to 40% to pay for this.

      We are at that critical time, that moment, where it is not to late to stop him and his ilk.

      We have to identify their replacements and fund them. If we don't it will be too late.

      When they turn up the propaganda and smear tactics we have to come back twice as hard.

      They are fools and they have underestimated Americans.

    12. Tommy..........Alaba says:

      any pulbic job should not be union……i'm an inactive union member that didn't like some of the things the union bosses (what a laugh )were trying to get the members to vote against the company i work for…..i voted (suppose to be sercet ) against it…….i was really harressed,i told them to shove it…..I didn't need no one to tell me how i was supposed to work and what not to do….if i saw anything needed to be done,at that very second,i did not want to wait maybe an hour or more before i could start working again,so i worked a notice,quit and never ask the union for anything…i go job hunting any get me the job i enjoy,and sure don't have union DUES coming out of my check to help pay the fat cat union bosses…..Wake up America….one of these days they will be at you door with clubs and bats to make you join their unions…..God Bless America

    13. Jeanne Stotler, Wood says:

      Oh for the days when we went to a bank and they knew you by name, the corner grocer who would let you take home a loaf of bread and quart of milf on your name only, if you were short you would pay it the next week. The neighborhood ice cream shop that knew your kids by their first names and would give them free taste of ice cream. Businesses have gotten big and they spend enourmess amounts on bonuses, conventions, and those Golden parachutes, while those who made it possible are totally ignored. There is no appreciation shown to the consumer, only how to scam them.

    14. philip says:

      Unions should not be allowed to contrubute to any political parties or canidates. My dues should not in any means be used to support any one running for goverment office, or goverment procedures.

    15. Maria, NC says:

      The problem with BIG Government is that they can make BIG mistakes (and often do). That is why a free market of millions of small decision makers works so well to optimize as many individuals' utility curves as possible and to enact rapid disincentives for poor decisions. So simple that even an Ivy League graduate should understand it.

    16. Tim Az says:

      I believe their battle cry is workers of the world unite. At least that's what the head of SEIU said in an interview I saw last night on Glenn Beck. Yes you are correct this battle cry was first used by the nazis of Germany. A world labor union could only exist under a one world government. So yes they first must bankrupt We The People before this can happen. Few people will tell you the horrifying truth. But I know you need to know these things to so you can act accordingly to the threat against your freedom.

      How's that hope and change working out for you?

    17. Tom, New Jersey says:

      Unions are obsolete. Between government labor law and lawyers, there are more protections for employees and employment than unions could or would ever provide for workers. Did'nt want to join the union, but I was told I would have to pay the dues anyway. Union bosses made me out to be a trouble maker with my co-workers. I just worked to hard for them and did'nt agree with their right to take my money for nothing. They act like pure criminals, confiscating members and non-members pay, and attacking anyone physically who does not agree with them. Time has come for a change. There ought to be a law against this criminal activity and end the extortion of the American workforce.

    18. Dennis A. Social Cir says:

      The union only exist because of the government. How much does this cost us as tax payers, the amount can not be defined. I goe to the VA for treatment of an injury in Vietnam, there are some that treats vets like dirt, talk down to us, act like we are an inconvience to them, and generally make the Vet feel like a useless pile of crap. You can not file a complint or see a supervisor, they all belong to the union. The union stops any corrective action toward them or any complaints by Vets. Now that the union owns the dems, congress and obama we the tax payer stand no chance of "hope or change", only going futher down the tubes to a socialist style government.

    19. Ben C, Ann Arbor says:

      Rich Eggleston, Madison, Wisconsin

      The answer to your question is "self reliance, self initiative, and self dicipline." Relying on "the goverment" to solve your problems is exactly why we are in the mess we are in today. If you are looking for the goverment to solve your problems I suggest Iceland or Denmark. The tax rate is 90% in Denmark which leaves about 10% for discretionary spending. Have a blast living there.

    20. charle tallman st. l says:

      government employee unions ,another road leading to the socialist word obama and his goons want.

    21. John, Colorado says:

      Its the people that can't cut it in private industry that go to work for the government. Not smart enough, no ambition, afraid of having to compete and succeed at what they do in order to survive.

    22. Lynn B. DeSpain says:

      Labor has never run business. Business people run business. Labor works for business. Without Labor there would be no businesses, and without Businessmen there are no Labormen. Simple fact of Capitalism.

    23. jim sardis,ms says:

      if only,the dumbed down public could understand that eliminating the private sector jobs in favor of government union jobs is the the redistributive socialist agenda obama keeps speaking of.the poor,those on welfare and those that think they are entitled to the American dream without working for it think the program is great because they pay no taxes or work for any entitlement they receive.sharing the wealth programs take from the rich and give to the poor.what happens when all the wealth is gone to support the program?the wealthy did not get wealthy by being stupid and giving all their wealth away.with nothing but government jobs paying the taxes,i wonder how long it will take for them to understand they pay the government to give them entitlements.with all the private sector jobs gone,where will we get anything to export since everything comes from china? how will the unions survive when the government is their only employer? most of the bailout money to the automakers was to pay the pension and benefits they did not have the money to pay.now the unions and the government owns them and has to pay the benefits and demands from the unions. there is a sinking ship nobody has sense enough to realize it cannot be saved.unions have destroyed US manufacturing,that is why everything comes from overseas.now,they have to work for the government producing nothing that adds to the GDP.

    24. Pingback: Dirty Democrats » Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 701 — Unions Depend On Growing Government, Growing Government Depends On Unions.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×