Are Government Unions Out Of Control? An Infographic

Tyler Durden's picture

This week, Arizona legislators are voting on a package of bills that would be “Wisconsin on steroids” – banning collective bargaining, release time and automatic deduction of union dues from paychecks. The unions plan state capitol protests this week, so things are heating up and the story has already appeared in various national publications. Since union protests are planned for the capitol tomorrow it will likely involve a lot of drama and TV coverage. Yet like every issue there are pros and cons, and government unions are a very sensitive topic to be sure. While the TV coverage will certainly focus on the favorable side of unionization (after all, what is better for the economy than more people collecting paycheks.... even if these are ever diminishing paychecks) here is an infographic from the Goldwater Institute looking at the cost side of the equation.

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_ConanTheLibertarian_'s picture

Unions should be abolished, really.

bob_dabolina's picture

We don't need unions anymore with all the programs the government has to protect workers. 

I don't even want to list them all.

This golf resort is owned by the UAW:

"While many courses have two or three so-called signature holes that are worthy of brochure status, every hole at Black Lake Golf Club could easily be on the front cover of a magazine promoting the course.  That is one reason that it was placed #34 in Golf Digest's....

The course is owned by the UAW, who selected one of golf’s most acclaimed course architects, Rees Jones, to design an environmentally responsible, championship caliber course. It was a challenge eagerly embraced by Jones, Golf World Magazine’s “Architect of the Year” in 1995. "

Thank you US tax payers!!!!!!!'s half time America - put on your work boots so next time these jerk offs need a bailout they can still play golf at their resort

redpill's picture

If people want to collectively bargain instead of negotiate on their individual merits that's fine with me.  They just shouldn't get any government protection for doing so.

bob_dabolina's picture

Obama guarantees their standard of living with tax payer money. Why do you think he has such overwhelming support from unions? He'll subsidize their losses no matter what.

Unions are nothing other than a legalized form of organzied crime. 

PUBLIC UNIONS should DEFINIATELY be abolished. Doctors can't unionize, why should public workers be able to? 

Dr. Engali's picture

One of his first moves in office was to give them a 10% raise. Then the following year he "froze " their wages to make it look like they were feeling the pain with the rest of the nation.

Ahmeexnal's picture

Do it the greek way. Fire all workers, and for every 5 fired, hire just one.

JPM Hater001's picture

Careful.  It was ugly here in Wisconsin and they repealed it in OH.  Oh, and plan on being called a Koch-head.

Michael's picture

Get it strait. It is now Private Sector vs Public Sector Warfare. None of this class warfare bullshit.

TruthInSunshine's picture

Government jobs, of which there are quite a few at the federal, state and local levels of government, are the last bastion of the unions.

In the United States, there are 22.5 million government employees (at least as of the 2008 census - I haven't checked the 2010 census and do not care to get more ill).

TOTAL - 22,461,691

2008 US Population (est) - 304,059,724

Of course, this 22.5 million is a number representing direct employees, and I wouldn't be shocked if there's another 5 million 'subcontractors' of government agencies (or maybe 2x that amount).

Leaving the issue of contractors and subcontractors aside,

1 in every 13.5 jobs in IOUSA is a direct employee of federal, state or local government.


*It's a good thing we can afford this largesse, given our very disciplined spending whereby our national debt = a mere $200,000 per citizen if David M. Walker, the former Chief Comptroller of the United States, is to be believed (or $700,000 per anyone who currently pays net taxes), based on what he has come with as a pretty concrete Debt of 61 trillion USD (that was as of 18 months ago, so add...I don't know...a couple trillion).

Kotlikoff pins it 3.3x as high as Walker, so that's a cool 2.4 million per net taxpaying citizen.

Nov 17, 2011 – Laurence Kotlikoff, professor of economics at Boston University, talks with Bloomberg's Tom Keene about a U.S. fiscal gap of $211 trillion.

blindfaith's picture



Contractors are just a way to hide what is going on, they ( mostly) do a pissy job and end up costing more. 

I see Florida citizens getting suckered into this Correction corp and others running the jails...just wait Florida the billion dollar lawsuits alone will convince you to dump every self-service Republican you blindly elected.  Thank God I live in Georgia, at least ours don't give away the state if they want to sun at Tybee this year.

TruthInSunshine's picture

Well, if using contractors and subcontractors is a stealth way of getting that ratio of government workers to overall IOUSA jobs to 1 in 10, or even better, 1 in 8, then Paul Krugman is all for it, so who can be against it...

Xkwisetly Paneful's picture

With the last 50% increase in population in the US there was a 125% increase in the number of government employees. The military is generally constant  around 1million.

I would place the subcontractor number even higher and if include all personel who's primary function is complying with local, state and federal regulation obviously the number would go even higher.

It is sick as the government and their no show jobs, have become the largest employer, consumer, landlord, tenant, lender and borrower. The crowding out factor is substantial and obviously slams the poor and middle class the most as they compete with a largely unaccountable government for same goods and services.


moroots's picture

Government invented racketeering, then passed laws against it to eliminate the competition.

Dermasolarapaterraphatrima's picture


The Coming Generational Storm: What You Need to Know about America's Economic Future 


is an excellent read:


ChrisFromMorningside's picture

What about individuals who are neither direct employees nor subcontractors but who tangentially rely on government spending to keep their industries going? We're talking everything from the fast food restaurants that rely on EBT-carrying customers to the armies of "consultant" middle-men that have to get their cut whenever the government is contemplating an infrastructure project. It would probably be near impossible to quantify, but there are a whole lot more people than those 22.5 million who depend upon our "largesse" (at threat of incarceration).

Jendrzejczyk's picture

"....who tangentially rely on government spending to keep their industries going?"

Being one of the "tan-genitles", I hang my head in shame and admit that all that live here in DC are reliant on the gov in one way or another.

thadoctrizin's picture

22.5 million govt employees = 22.5 million workers that don't pay taxes

GubbermintWorker's picture

Really?  What some, or most, or you fail to realize that it most public sector workers DO NOT belong to a union

--Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (37.0 percent) more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.9 percent).
Yes, its five times higher than private sector workers but 63% of public sector workers dont belong to a union or have collective bargaining rights. I fucking know, I'm one of those non unioin workers. I don't have a gold plated retirement plan that pays me 90 to 100% of my salary, I don't have medical insurance coverage after retirement. so stop this bull shit talk about public sector versus private sector bullshit. You're doing exactly what the PTB want you to do, you idiot!
grid-b-gone's picture

Gub, you are probably safe. If your job can't be done cheaper by the private sector, and you do not have a benefits package that is out-of-line with those of private sector, and you are doing a job that must be done, you are providing a public service

That is the test when funds run short. Is this person providing an essential public service that can't be done for substantially less in the private sector?

GubbermintWorker's picture

Yep, sewage treatment, and a private firm did try to take over the operations but when I pointed out to the town council that their contract required the town to pay for the costs of replacing major equipment at the town's cost, and how then that does not provide the contract operations to do much of an incentive to perform preventative maintenance....well...I'm still there :-)

Gully Foyle's picture


About six months ago I read this article about some Westerner in India. He had five women with scissors mowing his lawn. When asked if that was offensive he pointed out that the labor was cheap and each of those women were feeding their families. One person with a mower would have made far less than those women with scissors.

Five families saved.

Uncle Remus's picture

By hand was how it was done on base in Morocco in the 50's in enlisted housing.

Cathartes Aura's picture

stupid westerners & their manicured lawns - waste of space, pollutants for maintenance - let the women plant out food gardens, it would be a better "gesture" - they could share the food in markets, make more money, "save" more families.

grid-b-gone's picture

A friend who spent some time in South America said it was customary (expected) if you were doing well financially, you were to employ others. A cook or someone to look after the home cost about $25/wk U.S., so it was not a big deal to comply with the cultural expectation. 

ilovefreedom's picture

*at 40-60% the former employee wage

grid-b-gone's picture

There is a pretty good chance many public sector workers will lose a large portion of their pensions and health coverage in the coming years. 

At barely 60% funded in many cases, only an immediate and powerful revival of the private sector can provide the infusion of funds over the coming decades to restore the health of these funds.

The 2011 U.S. median household income was $49,909. That's "household" as in there may be more than one worker helping to get the number up that high.

Even if highly educated, public workers making substantially more than $50K are supported by the private sector median income as the source of public paychecks. Luckily, the private sector tends to work for 45 years which helps close the funding gap, but the public sector's ability to secure employment over multiple decades has deteriorated.  

As we have seen in negotiations around the country, entrenched union members will not budge. In almost every case, they end up creating a two-tier agreement that screws younger union members to preserve the promises made to those with seniority.

If a resentful working environment develops as a result, look for a move toward more privatization as the final solution. 

jekyll island's picture

This is good and all, but the thinking is wrong.  The reason government unions are "successful" is because their benefits are backed by the goverment with IOU nothings.  We do not need to abolish gov't unions, we need to control the government and everything else will be resolved.  

Two good places to start:  1) Re-establish the gold standard   2) Limit government to budget of 18% of GDP - spend it however you like, but you cannot exceed the limit.  I would have added #3 - End the Fed, but do not want to be labeled as a terrorist by FBI at this time.  Oops, too late.  I am not prounion, but understand they represent the interests of their constituents just like the lobbyists.  They are there to get as much as possible and they don't care how they do it.  If the money is not there, well that is a showstopper.  End of discussion.  If people of your state would rather fund a 10% increase to your government workers instead of repaving the roads, go out and vote them out of office or move to another state not named California.  Or Illinois.  

ffart's picture

What the hell is a GDP number? It's a made up, bullshit number that isn't at all reflective of the real economy. If you base government largess off some phony number they'll just game it like they do with the inflation number. Assuming we still need to have a national government, I think it makes more sense to strictly limit the types of taxes which can be employed and what the tax revenue can be used for and return control of the money supply to the people. Then the problem of excessive government can be resolved gradually and over time.

ChrisFromMorningside's picture

At the very least, we should add a Balanced Budget ammendment to the Constitution. It should also mandate that state governments must balance their budgets as well. I know, states are supposed to do that already. But when you look at California and its unfunded liabilities and the way they use accounting tricks to hide their shortfalls, its clear that some of the state governments are actually running deficits in reality.

LoneCapitalist's picture

Collective bargaining is wrong, even without gov. protection. For many businesses it boils down to either going out of business now because a walkout will shut them down, or going out of business later after the union bleeds them dry.

redpill's picture

That wouldn't happen without government protections.  Workers could potentially get fired for striking (or what regular businesses call "not showing up for work!") and get no unemployment benefits.  That changes the balance of power substantially, and makes workers more carefully weigh the benefits and drawbacks of collective bargaining.

JPM Hater001's picture

"Collective bargaining is wrong"

"Collective bargaining without 100% voluntarily participation is wrong."


thatthingcanfly's picture

You fixed nothing, you pretentious ass.

Collective bargaining, with or without 100% voluntary participation, is as clear an expression of Global Communism as wearing a red T-shirt emblazoned with a yellow hammer & sickle.

It discourages exceptional performance and encourages mediocrity among workers, stifling the natural instincts that otherwise make individuals competitive with one another in a constructive manner and making the poor participants spiritually sick.

Collective bargaining is the very definition of a moral hazard.

kinganuthin's picture

hmm.. not quite.. Communism is where the government tells you what you are going to be paid as a collective. 

Some larger companies prefer it to some extent so they dont have to negotiate the wages of every single emplyee.  It would cost more to hire the managers to perform a task when you got 10 of thousands of emplyees. 
A group of people wanting to get together to discuss and bring a proposition to maybe an unaware employer isnt communism, it's a form of free speech and right to work.  If the employer wishes to fire them all for it.. then so be it.
People have the right to assemble.  I'm sure I read that somewhere.

nmewn's picture

I guess I'll take the other side, just for sport.

Public employees should not be allowed to unionize. Its state sponsered legaized theft.

Private employees I don't really have an issue with them unionizing.

Pressure has to be brought to bear on management in some fashion or they will run it like little fiefdoms. And I'd rather that pressure come from the workers than the state.

If management is weak and caves to insane demands (like GM etc.) it is the management that ultimately ran it into the ground by caving...not the union. Let them strike, the company can get other workers and train them with time, the shareholders will just have to suck it up for a little while.

In the case of public employees, the taxpayer (meaning management here) is never at the negotiation no union for you!!!

And no, I'm not a union member. For me it would never work out, I'd wind up telling the union and management to go pound sand ;-)

ChrisFromMorningside's picture

At what point does collective action (lower case) become Collective Bargaining (upper case), and thereby an expression of "Global Communism"?

If a group of employees meets after work, discusses their wages, and then they present a united front as they confront management with their grievances, does that make them evil commies? That seems like an expression of fundamental freedom to me. I also think management/capital should have the freedom to fire them immediately, if that's how they feel.

BooMushroom's picture

"Okay, boss, here's the deal: you're gonna pay Jimmy and me the same as you pay Frankie, or else me and Jimmy are gonna get all the guys to stop working and trash the place."

"But Frankie works twice as hard, and fixes the equipment for me, too. He deserves more pay."

"Jimmy, go tell Frankie if he fixes the equipment one more time, we're gonna get him fired. And break out his living room windows."

"You guys are real bastards. You're both fired."

"Nice factory you got here. Shame if anything *happened* to it. We'll be here to work tomorrow. We'll have my cousin's law firm and my uncle, Sherrif Rick with us when we punch in."

GOSPLAN HERO's picture

In Soviet Maryland: The Democrats and AFSCME are one and the same.

Missiondweller's picture

Same way in the People's Republic of California

TruthInSunshine's picture

D.C.-Virginia-Maryland = The Trifecta Corridor of Federal Government Employees (along with government 'contractors') & Taxdollar Milk & Honey

Ness.'s picture

Don't forget Chicago, Crook County Illinois, Obamaville, the Union-topian State.  Can I get a what what?

Antifaschistische's picture

If people want to collectively bargain that's fine with me also....but that's not what "collective bargaining" is.   Collective Bargaining is cohersive bargaining because I'm not allowed to opt out of that representation.   If ten people in my department want to "go to our boss" and say give me a raise or we're all quiting...they should have the right to do that.  And I should have the right to say "I'm staying you guys do what you want".

bigdumbnugly's picture
Are Government Unions Out Of Control?

that's a rhetorical question, right?

Raymond Reason's picture

That's the problem with this world.  Wherever power consolidates, there you will find corruption.  Life's a bitch, then you die, then you go to hell. 

ChrisFromMorningside's picture

"Life's a bitch and then you die, that's why we get high." - Nas

Dan The Man's picture

so it took you about half of a second for you to associate this article on GOVERNMENT UNIONS and took a shot at the UAW.  You're an idiot if you can't see the difference.

Freddie's picture

UAW, Govt Unions, Teamsters, all the same criminal socialists like the banksters.  No difference.