Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The state of our unions

These days it’s rare to read a story where New York takes the No. 1 spot.

But recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics help confirm New York’s leadership in two categories. The first is the percentage of its workforce that is unionized — 23.2 percent. The other is the percentage of its public-sector workforce that is unionized. Other studies put that number at 73.3 percent, double the national rate.

For most Americans, the word “union” conjures up iconic images of muscled men assembling cars, fitting pipes or constructing buildings. But that hasn’t been the reality since 2009, when the number of unionized government workers first surpassed unionized private-sector workers.

That, plus hard economic times, highlights an increasing conflict within Big Labor: between the brotherhood of the public sector and the brotherhood of the private sector.

Say what you will about the high costs imposed by private-sector unions. These unions are at least tethered to reality — i.e., to the private sector — in some way. If their company or industry goes down, they know they will take a hit (just ask the bakers at Hostess).

By contrast, when public-sector unions are told there isn’t enough money for all they want, their answer is, simply, “raise taxes.” And often the politicians oblige.
In recent years, some in the private-sector unions have begun to realize that they are paying the price. They pay most directly as taxpayers, of course. It’s dawning on the out-of-work drywaller or cement worker that it’s his tax dollars subsidizing the local teacher who pays next to nothing for his or her health care.

But these private-sector workers are also paying the price in terms of diminished job opportunities. Look around at the building trades — the steamfitters, the drywallers, the carpenters. For many of these unions, unemployment has been several times as high as the national rate of 7.8 percent.

We suspect that’s one reason that in New Jersey, Senate President Stephen Sweeney supported Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s reform of pensions and benefits for state workers. Sweeney may be a Democrat, but he’s also a leader in the ironworkers union, and he understands there won’t be any jobs for ironworkers if New Jersey doesn’t clean up its fiscal house and get its economy back on track.

In other words, it’s not only business that pays a price for a highly unionized government work force. Other workers pay, too.

Posted from iPhone

Source: NY Post


  1. To Anonymous: At 11:00 AM you posted a comment that I have deleted and re-posted below. Please refrain from posting personal information that you know nothing about.

    To answer your questions, I am not against public-sector unions, I do not believe their jobs should be non-union or they should take a wage cut.


    John: Apparently you've posted another Rupert Murdoch/News Corporation anti-union opinion piece-- on the front page of your blog-- because you're against public-sector unions. So, you believe City Carpenters, who maintain govt. buildings, the subways, etc., should either be non-union, or take a wage cut.

    You suggest this, while you take home $100,000, to mostly read the NY Post and work on your blog all day, your Brother or Sister is underground, on the tracks, dodging trains. It's a shame you've become so comfortable in a comfortable job and lifestyle, you now identify more with the union-busting media bosses than your working class fellows.

  2. UNIONS RODE THE WRONG HORSE IN 2012- SOME OF US WARNED THE TRUSTEES IN 2011.Be VERY nice to the few contractors still crazy enough to stay with you- and go after the open shop unions.


  3. John how many lawyers, doctors, and ceos are taking pay cuts? Did you know that Rupert Murdoch's news corp hacked a dead kids phone in england and let the family believe the daughter was still alive! John why dont you post from pro america non slave labor publications. Hey this is a democracy and your allowed to show as much of your intelligence as you have.


I would ask that if you would like to leave a comment that you think of Local 157 Blogspot as your online meeting hall and that you wouldn’t say anything on this site that you wouldn’t, say at a union meeting. Constructive criticism is welcome, as we all benefit from such advice. Obnoxious comments are not welcome.