Gov Careers

By Phil Piemonte

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Do federal employee unions earn their keep?

The weakening leverage of unions in the private sector was apparent this week when Ford announced that over the next several years it would begin to hire about 2,000 new workers—under a 2007 union-negotiated contract—at $14 an hour, about half the wages of current workers.

While a number of factors—including foreign competition, a succession of less-than-labor-friendly administrations, and most recently, an anemic economy—have weakened the effectiveness and reach of unions in the private sector, unions continue to wield significant influence in the federal workforce.

Of course, many of the forces that pressure unions in the private sector are less of a factor in the public sector. The Department of Veterans Affairs, for example, cannot squeeze concessions from its workers by threatening to move VA medical centers to India. On the other hand, federal employee unions must deal with varying levels of resistance from certain agency executives, antagonistic legislators and unsympathetic administrations.

Judging from the compensation, benefits and job security enjoyed by most union-represented feds, the majority of casual observers outside government would conclude that federal employee unions are doing a bang-up job.

Is the perception is the same from the inside? We’d like to find out here….

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Aug 06, 2010 at 12:13 PM


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