Wisconsin, Virginia and Public-Sector Unions

The struggle over collective bargaining and government worker benefits continues in Wisconsin. Residents of the Badger State may be interested in comparing their government’s fiscal and union policies with policies in the Old Dominion.

Wisconsin

  • Collective bargaining (monopoly unionism) in place for government workers, with about 52 percent of state/local workers in unions (Source: Table 1 here)
  • State debt as a share of income: 4.6% (Source: Moody’s)
  • State unfunded pension obligations as a share of GDP: 32% (Source: Andrew Biggs)
  • Score on quality of state government management: B- (Source: Pew Center)  
  • Score on Pew’s subcategory for “people” management: B-

Virginia

  • Collective bargaining in state and local government banned by a 1993 statute signed into law by Democratic Governor Douglas Wilder
  • State debt as a share of income: 2.1%
  • State unfunded pension obligations as a share of GDP: 17%
  • Score on quality of state government management: A-
  • Score on Pew’s subcategory for “people” management: A  

 

Public sector unionism is, of course, just one factor affecting a state’s fiscal and management results. But there is a statistical correlation across the 50 states on unionism and some public policy outcomes (see here and here).

Ending monopoly unionism in state government would not be the apocalyptic event that some Wisconsin protesters seem to think. Indeed, collective bargaining is not a “right” of government workers, but a special privilege that stands in the way of modern and flexible policy management. Hopefully, public sector unions will eventually go the way of private sector unions and the dinosaurs.

More on public sector unions here.