Today is the first day in which a majority of union members work for the government, which means bigger government and higher taxes:
This Labor Day marks a milestone in the history of the U.S. union movement. It is the first Labor Day on which a majority of union members in United States work for the government. In January the Department of Labor reported that union membership in government has overtaken that in the private sector. Three times as many union members work in the Post Office as in the entire domestic auto industry. The face of the union movement is not a worker on the assembly line but a clerk at the DMV.
This is a dramatic shift for the union movement. The early trade unionists did not believe that unions had a place in government. They believed the purpose of unions was to redistribute business profits from owners to workers … and the government makes no profits. Not until the 1960s did unionizing government employees become widespread. Now government employees make up 52 percent of all union members.
So what? Why should Americans care if unions are now dominated by workers who get their paychecks from governments, instead of workers who get their paychecks from private firms? There’s one simple reason: private firms face competition; governments don’t.
Collective bargaining, the anti-trust exemption at the heart the labor movement’s power, was created to help workers seize their “fair share” of business profits. But if a union ends up extracting a contract from a private firm that eats up too much of the profits, then that firm will be unable to reinvest those resources and will lose out to competitors. But when a union extracts a generous contract from a government, there is no check on that spending. Instead of being forced out by more efficient competitors, the government just raises taxes.
The shift from private to public sector has fundamentally changed organized labor’s priorities. Unions used to support policies that would help their private sector employers grow. But now that they are largely dependent on the government, the only growth that unions are interested in is the growth of government. So unions push for tax increases across the country.
What is the true cost of the union label?
Here’s a Labor Day factoid: The total economic loss we’d feel from labor bosses’ and environmental activists’ joint “cap-and-trade” tax scheme – $10 trillion from 2012 to 2035 – is roughly the same as all of America deciding to completely cease all economic activity from New Year’s Day to, well, Labor Day next year.
There is also protectionism:
Now the Department of Commerce is set to decide the fate of protectionist policies being requested by the United Steelworkers, its newly acquired allies in the environmentalist movement, and a couple corporate cronies who seeking tariffs on paper products.
All that might not sound like much, but it could mean massive new tariffs on foreign products, which means domestic companies will also raise their prices. An Australian think tank found earlier this year that similar collusion by labor, green groups like Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and industry groups had consumers flushing 42 percent more money on toilet paper costs.
Trade barriers and tariffs help labor officials and their members, and environmentalists would just as soon we all play with hemp dolls, but they have very little care for the real hardships of others less fortunate. Yet the colluding groups fight against free-trade agreements, which are one of the easiest methods of liberalizing trade and starting the long process of lifting the world’s poor out of poverty.
Labor day now means you labor for the unions’ benefit.