Union membership is down to 6% of the American population when you leave government out of the equation.

This is not a vast conspiracy by employers to be anti-union. The reality is the union movement lost its oomph because the nature of work changed.

One generation ago, we did repetitive assembly line kind of jobs. Today, we are a manufacturing powerhouse but there's little employment in the field because of automation.

Now you have more and more automakers building factories in the non-union South. That's driving union organizers crazy. But for now, there are few auto workers in the Southern states wanting to join a union.

I read a story in BusinessWeek where they profiled a group of Walmart employees who love where they work, but are not happy with corporate decisions. They don't want to unionize, but they just want the company to hear them and change what's going on.

Meanwhile, the union rate in government jobs is closing in on 40%.

Unions have become all-powerful in city and county elections. It's difficult to get elected without support of the unions. But here's the problem: You owe the unions and they get paid back with fatter pensions and benefits. And the taxpayers don't have a seat at the table in that discussion.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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