In 2009 and 2010, U.S. labor unions lost about 1.4 million members. That reversed slightly in 2011, according to new figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unions added about 50,000 members nationwide.
But it is worth noting that union membership today, 11.8 percent, is far lower than it was a few decades ago. Unions represented about a third of all workers in the 1950s.
It is equally noteworthy that today -- unlike in the past -- most union members are in government. There are 7.6 million unionized workers in government, compared with 7.2 million in the private sector. More than a third of all government workers are in unions, compared with less than 7 percent of private-sector workers.
But government workers should not be unionized at all. There should never be any hint of union-related work slowdowns or similar tactics against the very taxpayers who pay government employees' salaries.
And yet that happens. As one example, unionized sanitation workers and supervisors in New York City admitted to the New York Post that after a 2010 blizzard, they slowed snow removal to protest budget cuts. Plowing was delayed, endangering drivers and emergency services. In effect, the workers held taxpayers hostage to their demand for more jobs and higher compensation.
That sort of thing is the very reason why government workers should not be allowed to form unions.