Conservatives and Republicans have perennial complaints about the negative impact of unions on Connecticut’s economy. Well, the federal government may have provided some support to this criticism with a recent report titled 2020 Current Population Survey. A surprising 74.1% of state and local government employees are union members. That leads the nation. Also, CT leads with membership for government employees.
According to reporting by Yankee Institute for Public Policy, 18.4% of the state’s workforce is in a union, while 8.6% of workers in the private sector and 22.4% of construction workers are in a union. Those in manufacturing are approximately 13.9%. All of this pales next to the statistic for government workers – 74.1%. This is in even greater contrast to the national average for union works – 10.8%. So, Connecticut has nearly twice the national average of union workers.
The apparent conflict of interest needs more public discussion. It should seem obvious that the self-interest of government employees in unions runs afoul of administering laws in the public interest. This part of why Franklin Delano Roosevelt was opposed to government unions. Ultimately, it was John F. Kennedy who signed the law enabling government unions.
With few exceptions, union membership has declined over the years. While the U.S. is currently 10.8%, in 1977 it was 23.8%. In the 1950s, it was even higher.
The setback unions suffered in the case of Janus v. AFSCME has not deterred unions in CT. Even though the Supreme Court ruling prevented workers from being forced to pay union dues, that has not stopped groups like AFSCME from continuing to push for state legislation such as Senate Bill 908 which would require state employees to provide personal contact information to the unions, make paying union dues a state law, and require employers to comply with unions on deducting dues. Sounds like another trip to the Supreme Court sometime soon.
Moreover, the continuing efforts by unions to expand and incorporate new classes of workers for unionization is capturing new members. Who thought lawyers could be unionized? And not just any lawyers. Instead, those working in the Attorney General’s office. Republicans will fight it, but they are still the minority party in the legislature.
Unions are economically destructive. When companies with and without unions are compared, those without unions are more productive, more profitable, have more patents and are more innovative. The collective impact of various work rules, plus the generally negative attitude towards work produce a poor work environment.
The bottom line is that the economic growth of Connecticut is not keeping up with the rest of the nation. Put in simple terms, if the nation is growing at 2% and Connecticut is growing at 1%, what will happen over time? Connecticut will become more and more economically irrelevant. Connecticut is continuing to become an even smaller part of the total economy. Where, at one time, the state would have been 1.5% of the nation’s GDP, then it became 1.0%, and if not already, it will keep trending below 1.0%. Could Connecticut become 0.5% of the U.S. economy? Less? Under current conditions where the unions run the state legislature, it is only a matter of time.