For years there has been an imprecise knowledge about the strength of public sector unions, both in membership size and finances. Therefore, the Public Service Research Foundation more than two years ago agreed to fund an extensive research project by Dr. Leo Troy, Professor of Economics, and Dr. Neil Sheflin, Associate Professor of Business, both at Rutgers University.
The study presents the first measure of the true size and power of public sector unions in the United States. These are the first figures of the annual average dues-paying membership of every known public sector labor organization in the country between 1897 and 1982. With the termination of the Department of Labor's Biennial Membership Survey in 1978, this data is the only current source of public sector memberships in existence. This data base is unique in both its span and depth of coverage.
The study develops considerable new statistical information on the flow and ebb of public sector unions, and offers new insights on their development over the past two decades. It is pointed out that the dominant public sector labor organization, the National Education Association, just 20 years did not claim to be a labor union.
The authors advance the argument that the distinctions which have theoretically and historically separated public and private unions are vanishing. Their argument for convergence applied to the structural forms of labor organization, collective bargaining, strike, public policy, and the tendency to diminish if not to shed the traditional role of civil service in public employment.
The extensive charts, tables, and financial details of each public sector union are very enlightening for the student of government unions. Even the compensation provides insight: It is so advantageous to rise to the presidency of a government union that, in most instances, salaries exceed that of members of the United States Cabinet and Congress.
For those who have either a professional or academic interest in public sector unions, this is the first-and perhaps last-such study. It provides a wealth of valuable information.