Laura Heron sent in a article from the Economist about changes in union membership. The article, which takes a fairly negative view of the effects of unionization, includes a graph, titled “Where trouble lies,” that illustrates how much union membership has shifted from the private to the public sector in the U.S. Today, 36% of public employees (7.6 million) are members of a union, while only about 7% of employees of private companies (7.1 million) are:
Such a change, from primarily private-sector and often blue-collar workers to government employees, many of whom will be white-collar, middle-class, and relatively highly educated, has significant consequences for employers, governments, employees, and the issues likely to be of primary concern to the labor movement more broadly.
I used the data given in the article to create a chart comparing the percent of private- and public-sector employees in unions in Canada, the U.S., and Britain “today” (by which I assume they mean 2010, though they don’t specify, so be cautious there; also, they didn’t provide the private-sector rate for Canada, so I just used the data I had):
Aside from that, Laura’s attention was drawn to the post partially by the way labor was represented. To make sure we don’t miss the fact that unions are “trouble,” they illustrate the story with this image depicting labor as a fat, ravenous, naked figure devouring resources from the trim man in business attire:
A subsection of the article is also titled “Fattening the Leviathan,” and as the image at the end of the article makes clear, we need to cut this monster down to size:
It’s sort of the mirror image of the “fat cat” rhetoric often used to depict the wealthy as greedy individuals who gorge themselves on profits at the expense of workers. In either case, the central element that makes such rhetoric work is the perception of fat people as lazy, ravenous, greedy individuals who take more than their fair share of available resources.