President Kennedy's 1962 Executive Order 10988, facilitating union organizing and collective bargaining in the federal government, spawned imitative policies on the state and local levels which have assisted the growth of public sector unionism. Their immediate result was to blur the distinction between private and public sector unions as the "convergence" of the two systems precipitated a shift of union power in the latter's direction. This shift in balance has continued as membership in private sector unions has declined because of structural changes in the labor market, a phenomenon reflected in Canada and Western Europe.
It is the political significance of this changing axis in the labor movement that is the central theme of Dr. Leo Troy's article, Public Sector Unionism: The Rising Power Center of Organized Labor. If the experience of unionism in other developed nations is any gauge of the future, Dr. Troy postulates that as public sector unions gain in strength their philosophical interests will have a greater impact on the American economy.
Unlike private sector unionists who understand the need for a free market economy, public sector unionists tend to align themselves with what Dr. Troy describes as the "new collectivism" which advocates the socialization of income. Unlike the traditional collectivist goal, which sought to control the means of production, the danger of this revisionist approach is that it requires the social engineering of society to achieve its goals. The only bulwark against it, as the experience of Great Britain indicates, is an emphasis on privatization and the return of state-owned properties and their work forces to the private sector.