As a disclaimer, I work for a firm that does consulting work for a government agency. (Environmental Engineering). While the whole Wisconsin thing has brought the debate over unionization of public sector workers to the forefront, The debate really does not go into the structural issues of the problems with unions for goverment employees. As stated above, I work for a company that does goverment contract work. This gives me what I belive to be an insight into some of the issues found in goverment work and unionization. To me the biggest problem is not with the unions themselves, but on the effects they have on elected officals. This is far more prevalent at the local level than the federal. Lets go with a comparison to a car manufacturer, with union workers. Here the union's goal is to ge the most compensation for its people. There is a limit however, and the union knows this, on how far it can go. If it makes it too expensive for the owner to sell the cars it makes, the owner goes out of business, and the people lose thier jobs. Thus a balancing act is created. The owners want to make as much money for thier stockholders as possible, the union wants to make as much money for its workers as possible, but both do not want the whole thing to go out of business. This balancing act is not seen in government. People can not simply go to another service provider for basic goverment services. You create a permenent clientele, short of people actually moving out of the municipality. In effect the company can not go out of business, because there is no competition for the services provided. Furthermore, the goverment can basically set the costs of those services via taxes, and short of voting said people out, there is not much that can be done. Here is where the concept of public sector unions as currently set up runs into trouble, particularly in areas where there is a larger portion of the workers employed by said goverments. The unions here gain enough power to sway elections. This creates a situation where politicans need to rely on the support of the very people they employ to get into office. At this point the balance you have in a private sector worker/owner relationship is basically non existant. It becomes easier for the politicans to give the unions what they want, instead of doing what is right for thier customers (taxpayers.) This leads to increased budget issues, which leads to more taxes. The other issue is that todays unions have run out of the basic things to fight for. They have the 40/35 hour workweek, they have overtime, and benefits. At this point all they can go for is wage increases, not based on senority or position, but just increases for increases sake, and protecting archaic work rules, with lower productivity. Work rules exist in private unions, but they still fall under need to keep up productivity, as if they cut it down too much, the company goes out of business, and everyone loses. This need to keep up productivity is largely abesent from public jobs. Again, they really cannot lose thier customers. The final issue I see is how unproductive people are dealt with. Private unions do have protections in place to stop people from being fired for arbitrary reasons, but in the end, they still have to abide by the need to work efficently to produce a product, so (again) the company does not go out of business, and everyone loses thier jobs. In the public sector, the way to handle unproductive people is to basically find them some position where thier perfromance does not affect things too much. Trying to get rid of someone once they are in is next to impossible. It is actually easier to layoff people indiscrimiately then to get rid of one person who is terrible at thier job. This then requires the people who actually care about thier jobs to work harder, use overtime, and basically cover for those who dont work. What is the solution to this? I'm not really sure, but it has to start somewhere. I think banning all unionization in public sector work is a rash move, but something has to be done. Making it easier to get more productivity out of public sector workers would probably be a start.