Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The end of unions?

With unions unable to recall the governor of Wisconsin on Tuesday, the coffin is starting to close.

But, to say that unions were ever this monstrous force in the political arena is largely hysterics.

During their heyday in the late 1940s through the early 1950s, when a somewhat-stable middle class finally emerged in America, unions represented less than a third of the workforce. 

Today, that margin is down to under 12 percent

But, what about the public unions?

Yes, they still exist, but only about 37 percent of public workers are unionized compared to 6.9 percent in the private sector.

To quote from the report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

"Over half of the 14.8 million union members in the U.S. lived in just seven states (California, 2.4 million; New York, 1.9 million; Illinois, 0.9 million; Pennsylvania, 0.8 percent; Michigan, 0.7 million; and New Jersey and Ohio, 0.6 million each)."

So, to suggest that unions ruined our economy, and our state budgets, is ridiculous.

If there were no unions in America, our economy would be in worse shape and workers would make dramatically less money with few benefits.

Of course, that is what is happening. Unemployment is high and low-wage jobs are replacing high-wage jobs. 

Public-sector employment has dropped more dramatically under President Obama than any other president. Since February 2009, public employment has dropped by 608,000 workers, mostly at the state and local level where it does the most damage to the economy. There was spike from the stimulus in 2010, but that is now long gone.

Health insurance now comes with high deductibles. Yes, even for public-union workers. 

Retirement benefits, in the form of 401(k) for private-sector workers and 403(b) for public-sector workers, proved to be gifts to the pit bosses at the gambling meccas on Wall Street.

The real lesson to be learned form Wisconsin is this: The Republican governor, backed by out-of-state billionaires like the Koch brothers, out-raised the "union-backed" Democratic challenger by the tune of $30.5 million to $3.9 million.

Big money wins big elections. 

And, the biggest money by far, as always, comes from the corporate sector.

End of story.

Update: Except that Stephen Colbert, and his passel of 17 writers, had their say.

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