Open Thread: The Continued Steep Decline of Unions
Writing at National Review, John Fund has an important piece on the declining power and influence of labor unions. Given their significant contribution to aiding and funding the growth of government, this is a positive trend that deserves to be highlighted amidst much of the negative news that conservatives have faced recently, especially considering that this is truly a historic slide to irrelevance:
Unions celebrated after helping secure President Obama’s reelection in November, but it’s been all downhill since then. December saw Michigan, the birthplace of industrial unionism in the 1930s, become a right-to-work state, as GOP state legislators became emboldened by the failure of a well-financed union ballot measure that would have cemented pro-union laws into the state’s constitution.
This week the bad news accelerated. On Tuesday, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who had announced her departure on January 9, cleaned out her desk and flew back home to California, leaving the department in the hands of a caretaker deputy — an unusual move, since most cabinet secretaries stay on until a successor is in place.
On Wednesday, the Labor Department reported that during President Obama’s first term, the percentage of workers belonging to unions declined faster than it did during the two terms of President George W. Bush. To be specific, the unionization rate is now 11.2 percent of all workers. Private-sector unionization fell from 6.9 percent to 6.6 percent, and the government unionization rate dropped from 37 percent to 35.9 percent.
There is a certain amount of irony in the notion that just as the expansion of the welfare state has negatively impacted the family, it also seems to have diminished government growth's biggest boosters, the unions.