The present recession has increased private-sector unemployment to over ten percent, and feckless attempts by government to ameliorate the recession have greatly expanded government employment. I predict that BLS data for 2009 will show government unions crossing the 50 percent threshold this year. The union movement is gradually becoming little more than a contest between government employees and taxpayers.

That’s from this month’s featured Econlib article, by Charles Baird, titled, “Labor Day is Not Union Day.”

In the article, Baird traces the decline in private-sector unionism and the increase in government-sector unionism. He also shows how government promotes union monopolies by law.

Baird also writes:

Section 9(a) of the NLRA compels an employer to recognize a union as the monopoly bargaining agent for all non-managerial employees when a majority of them vote for union representation. A majority vote “certifies” a union as the exclusive representative of all workers, including those who voted against the union and those who didn’t vote. Individual employees are forbidden to represent themselves. Unions justify this coercion of dissenting workers on the grounds that it is workplace democracy. They argue that since it is legitimate to have majority rule in government elections, it must also be legitimate to have majority rule in workplace elections. But this analogy is inapt.

Read the article and see why the analogy is inapt.

Another article well worth reading is the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics article on Labor Unions by Morgan Reynolds, a former chief economist of the Department of Labor. One of the most striking passages from that article:

Economist Ray Marshall, although a prounion secretary of labor under President Jimmy Carter, made his academic reputation by documenting how unions excluded blacks from membership in the 1930s and 1940s. Marshall also wrote of incidents in which union members assaulted black workers hired to replace them during strikes. During the 1911 strike against the Illinois Central, noted Marshall, whites killed two black strikebreakers and wounded three others at McComb, Mississippi. He also noted that white strikers killed ten black firemen in 1911 because the New Orleans and Texas Pacific Railroad had granted them equal seniority. Not surprisingly, therefore, black leader Booker T. Washington opposed unions all his life, and W. E. B. DuBois called unions the greatest enemy of the black working class. Another interesting fact: the “union label” was started in the 1880s to proclaim that a product was made by white rather than yellow (Chinese) hands.