Government Unions are Different

With our various levels of government grappling with revenues falling short of expenses, there is a long overdue focus being put on the state of government labor.  The recent Chicago teachers strike should be seen as an example of the excesses of government unions.  Reporting lumps all unionization into one category, and there is no distinction expressed between private and public unions. Public sector unions are different from private unions in that they have no “Free Market” competition to keep their demands in line.  In addition, the cozy relationship between the Democratic Party and public unions create a conflict of interest for elected officials.

In the private sector there are market restraints on what a union can demand.  If UPS (union) workers demand too much in compensation as to render their company non-competitive with FedEx (non-union), they will lose business.  This puts a “real world” restraint on what these unions can demand in terms of compensation and benefits.  Corporations can go out of business, which obviously would hurt the union employees.  GM & Chrysler notwithstanding, this market mechanism works well.  Government has no competition, and is in effect a monopoly in terms of the services that it supplies.  Therefore, there is no similar control placed upon public sector union demands.  If government workers go on strike, where else can consumers go to get their drivers licenses?

With the lack of market forces, taxpayers must rely exclusively upon management to say no to costly demands.  The managers who are sitting on the other side of the negotiating table are elected officials.  There is a political party, however, that is beholden to the very government unions they are supposed to be negotiating with.  The Democratic Party receives an overwhelming amount of money in political donations from public sector unions.  In fact, their top 4 donors are various government unions.  Many candidates go to union sponsored events, and pledge their support for union causes.  If a candidate for office received a donation from a corporation, then after being elected, gave a lucrative no-bid contract to that corporation it would be called corruption. How is this situation any different?

Considering most government entities (other than federal) must balance their budgets every year, you would think that politicians would be restricted from offering paybacks to the unions. They can’t give what they don’t have, right?  The problem with this argument is that the official has the ability to promise, and get passed into law, retirement and health benefits that will be paid for in the future. This takes away any current budgetary restraint that may exist, and puts us in the situation we find ourselves today all across the nation.

Our country is reaching a tipping point with all of the debts we have built up, and there needs to be a sober national conversation on these problems.  Without market forces, and the taxpayer representatives beholden to the unions, what chance do we have?  Nobody wants to talk about cutting pay or benefits, but the costs have simply gotten out of hand.  The taxes that will need to be levied to support this kind of uncontrollable spending will hit all Americans.  This issue is at the core of what kind of country, and opportunities we will pass on to our children.

Author Bio:

Michael has been an editor and contributor at the website for over 2 years. He has over 20+ years of diverse business experience, from running complex operations where he managed hundreds of people, to starting and running small businesses such as He is blessed, or perhaps cursed, with a logical mind which he uses to analyze government, media, politics, and culture. He believes that his life experiences help him bring a unique perspective to the issues of the day.
  • Stanzia

    Absolutely agree with you Michael. Where are the grown ups, Can anyone say QE3, how about QE4 and QE5, more of everything please.

  • Keith “Lucky” Luxton

    Well said Michael. Unions in general are a major cause of our financial problems. But public service unions will be the death knoll of the country. They are irresponsible,
    the PS Management have no financial stake, so they are not particularly responsible.
    So lets keep grabbing more and more. That is why all of our government offices are busting budgets, if they ever bother to make them.

  • FloridaJim

    I read a report that shows the country has a debt due to public Union employees of $900,000,000,000 of unfunded pensions. does anyone think if Obama is reelected this won’t be another Obama -bailout to appease his union campaigners and screw us?
    As the Fed prints more stimulus dollars America loses and our children will never remember the America we knew.

  • venter

    Another article

    • venter

      Another GOOD article. 

  • Haureatired

    Good read.  There was a time unions had a positive need.     There was a need for unions when there were sweat shops.  As time went on conditions changed and so did the unions .  Now union  powers  weakened  the workers the same why the  sweat shop owners did.  Private sector  unions have weakened companie’s  rights and ability to produce a better product  because of union demands.  The  dues lines the union head’s pockets.  Public unions produce laziness , high taxes and no competition and debt to many cities and soon more countries. How much money is in our budget for union workers.  Ohhhhhh  I forgot we don’t have a budget!  (3 years now?).   If we did have   a budget , would we be shocked to see how much money is going to union workers? Would we be shocked to see how the public work force has increased  in the past 4 years. All union workers who we pay for and we want the best for them!!  We are like employers and we can have a strike against us at any time.   We will settle the strike with new  taxes so our employees get better healthcare,higher wages, shorter hours and of course job security for good workers and bad!
    Good read we AGREE