Public Sector Union Reform in the States

The New York Times features an article on how some states are looking to scale back the power public sector unions currently enjoy. Prompted by the scope of the fiscal impact that pensions and other benefits are having on state and local budgets, Governors and Legislators are considering taking away collective bargaining as well as potentially banning public sector workers from organizing. The head of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees says these moves are  just payback for public sector unions’ financial support for particular candidates.

The late 20th century rise of the public sector union is one of the most profound and until recently, largely overlooked, changes that occured in American government. As Rutgers economist Leo Troy has noted the rise of public sector unionism represented a “structural break” from the Old (private sector and industrial) Unionism. However, many labor economists continued to treat the two as similar a major misstep in understanding the nature, goals, and implications of government unions.