Government Unions vs. Taxpayers

The rise of the labour movement in the early 20th century was a triumph for America's working class.

But the majority of union members today no longer work in construction, manufacturing or "strong back" jobs. They work for government, which has become the only booming "industry" left in our economy, says Tim Pawlenty, governor of Minnesota.

  • Since January 2008 the private sector has lost nearly eight million jobs while local, state and federal governments added 590,000.
  • Federal employees receive an average of $123,049 annually in pay and benefits, twice the average of the private sector.
  • Across the country, at every level of government, the pattern is the same: Unionized public employees are making more money, receiving more generous benefits and enjoying greater job security than the working families forced to pay for it with ever-higher taxes, deficits and debt.

    Reformers would be wise to adopt three overriding principles.
  • First, bring public employee compensation back in line with the private sector and reduce the overall size of the federal civilian work force.
  • Second, the government should start using the same established accounting standards that private businesses are required to use, so we can accurately assess unfunded liabilities.
  • Third, end defined-benefit retirement plans for government employees.

    The moral case for unions -- protecting working families from exploitation -- does not apply to public employment. Government employees today are among the most protected, well-paid employees in the country. Ironically, public-sector unions have become the exploiters and working families once again need someone to stand up for them, says Pawlenty.

    Source: Tim Pawlenty, "Government Unions vs. Taxpayers," Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2010.

    For text:

    For more on Government Issues:

    FMF Policy Bulletin / 21 December 2010

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