Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Who's Unionized Now? A Wisconsin Footnote

I'm beginning to suspect that everything I assumed about public employee unions is wrong (Teachers actually make less than private sector employees!  Public employees in non-union states do pretty well!).  But I suspect I'm not alone in this--I suspect a lot of folks are more surprised at this kind of data than perhaps they are letting on.  Anyway, I don't see why my (erstwhile?) ignorance should bar me from popping off on the topic. So here's a point I haven't seen elsewhere.

Specifically: there seems to be some general dismay over the (alleged) declining support for public sector unions.  But I haven't seen anybody link this point to the almost-universal decline in private sector unions.  Start with my neighbor, the City of Vallejo, the poster child of municipal bankruptcy. Granted (or assume for purposes of argument) that ladelled out the goodies to its  public sector workers.  But Vallejo is a blue-collar town, where (at least 40 years ago) you would have found a strong temperamental disposition to favor unions in general, and so a willingness--call it "only fair" to allow public employees into the fray.  If there is still support for public employee unions, I suspect it is carried forward by inertial force.  I doubt that all those dis-unionized private-sector blue collar workers would be so tolerant this time around of allowing a protection for public employees that they no longer enjoy.

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