Pervasive Government-Sector Unionization Linked to Higher
Today special-interest laws on the books in more than 30
states explicitly force local governments, under certain conditions, to hand
monopoly-bargaining control over some or all of their front-line civil servants
to Big Labor.
State laws promoting so-called “exclusive” union
representation in public workplaces have made union bosses like American
Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) kingpin Lee
Saunders and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) czarina Randi Weingarten
into political powerbrokers.
Government union chiefs wield enormous clout over taxpayers
However, thanks to the determined and persistent opposition
of National Right to Work Committee members, the union political machine has so
far not succeeded in ramming through Congress legislation federally mandating
union monopoly-bargaining control over state and local public employees
Considered Decisions of State Lawmakers Would Be
Now rabidly pro-forced unionism U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)
and Congressman Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) are out to eliminate the sovereign
authority of states to protect their own employees and employees of their
localities from government union-boss tyranny.
On June 25, Ms. Hirono and Mr. Cartwright simultaneously
introduced in their respective chambers the cynically mislabeled Public Service
Freedom to Negotiate Act (S.1970 and H.R.3463).
This legislation would force hundreds of thousands of
American teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other public employees to
accept, as their monopoly-bargaining agent, a union they never voted for and
want nothing to do with.
This federal power grab would obliterate state statutes in
North Carolina and Virginia that expressly prohibit officers of those states
and their localities from delegating a portion of their authority to set the
terms and conditions of employment for civil servants to government union
It would also override the wishes of generations of
lawmakers in states like Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, and South Carolina who
have again and again rejected demands by union lobbyists that they pass
legislation to foist monopoly bargaining on state and local public employees.
Testifying before a U.S. House panel this March, National
Right to Work staff attorney Glenn Taubman cited the most compelling reason of
all why Congress should not go down this road:
“[F]orcing an individual to be represented by a private
organization is antithetical to American values of free speech and free
State Monopoly-Bargaining Density Closely Correlated With
National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix
“While public servants who value their personal freedom to
affiliate or not affiliate with a private organization are the primary victims
of government-promoted union ‘exclusivity,’ many other citizens are also
“For example, everyone who pays state and local taxes has a
stake in opposing monopolistic unionism in public workplaces.
“Government union bosses are the most aggressive advocates
of higher taxes and more government spending in state capitals as well as in
“While bigwigs of unions like AFSCME and the AFT push hard
for Tax & Spend policies everywhere, they naturally do so with greater
success in states that authorize and promote union monopoly bargaining over
public workers’ terms and conditions of employment.”
Mr. Mix pointed to a recent analysis by the National
Institute for Labor Relations Research demonstrating a close correlation
between the pervasiveness of union monopoly control over public employees in a
state and its overall state-local tax burden as a share of income.
Under Government Unionism, a Lower Return For Taxpayers On
Their Education Dollar
The Institute ranked the 50 states according to their share
of public servants who were subject to union monopoly bargaining in 2016, using
data reported in the 2017 edition of the Union Membership and Earnings Data
Book, edited by labor economists Barry Hirsch and David Macpherson and
published by Bloomberg BNA.
The Institute next looked at these data in conjunction with
data on state-and-local tax collections in 2016 as reported by the nonpartisan
Tax Policy Center.
“Among the 17 states with the highest share of public
employees under union monopoly control,” noted Mr. Mix, “state and local taxes
combined consumed 11.0% of all personal income in 2016.
“That represents an aggregate state and local burden 22%
higher than the aggregate burden for the 16 states ranking in the middle for
monopoly-bargaining density and 26% heavier than the average for the 17 states
where government union bosses wield the least coercive power over public
“In other words, every year, residents of
government-union-stronghold states have to work an average of an extra week,
plus an extra Monday after that, just to pay off their state and local taxes,
compared to residents of states where relatively few, if any, public employees
are forced to accept union representation.
“In addition to having a lighter burden, citizens in
low-union-density states apparently get a better return on their tax dollar.
“A landmark 2018 study by economist Stan Liebowitz and researcher Matthew Kelly
showed that six of the nine states where ethnically and racially diverse
students do best relative to how much schools spend are Texas, Virginia,
Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina and Colorado.
“All of these states either expressly prohibit or do not
statutorily authorize union monopoly bargaining in K-12 public education.”
Hirono-Cartwright is so extreme it would force many, if not
all, states that already authorize union monopoly bargaining in the public
sector to grant even more sweeping special privileges to government union
‘Forfeiting This Responsibility Is Contrary to the
Principle Of Representative Democracy’
For example, this legislation would mandate that the terms
and conditions of employment for unionized public workers be set by private
“arbitrators” if public officials and government union chiefs reach an
“impasse” in their negotiations.
Forced-unionism Maine is one of many states with a
monopoly-bargaining statute that currently do not require such anti-taxpayer
In fact, just this summer, Democrat Gov. Janet Mills,
elected in 2018 with the support of many union officials, vetoed a
binding-arbitration bill, explaining that there are “good reasons why our state
has previously rejected this approach.”
Ms. Mills elaborated: “To delegate to private binding
arbitrators the authority to set [salaries, pensions and insurance] is to
forfeit a fundamental responsibility of our school boards, city councils, town
select boards, boards of trustees and governmental branch leaders.
“Forfeiting this responsibility is contrary to the principle
of representative democracy . . . .”
Freedom-Loving Citizens Must Prepare to Launch a Grassroots
“S.1970/H.R.3463 is so extreme it would wipe out even
minimal constraints on Big Labor ‘exclusivity,’” commented Mr. Mix. “It is
alarming that nearly 150 members of Congress had already cosponsored this
scheme by the beginning of August.
“Fortunately, with avowed Right to Work supporters currently
serving as President and Senate majority leader, S.1970/H.R.3463 is unlikely to
become law this year or next.
“But depending on the outcome of the 2020 elections, a bid
to federalize government-sector union monopoly bargaining could become a major
threat in less than a year-and-a-half. That’s why the Committee is already
preparing to help freedom-loving citizens nationwide launch a grassroots