As we reported last week, 2009 will mark the first time ever in American history that the majority of union members work for federal, state, or local governments. The percentage shift has been staggering. In 1973 only 17.3% of union members worked for government. Today that number is 51.2%.

When unions depended on steel plants, coal mines, and automobile factories for their livelihood there was at least a chance that they would support some pro-growth public policies. But now that unions are dependent on the government, and not the private sector, for their membership dues pro-growth policies are not a priority at all. Hence the Big Labor/enviro alliance behind carbon cap and trade tax programs.

Worse, unions now have every incentive to grow government at the expense of taxpayers and private sector jobs. Manhattan Institute senior fellow Steven Malanga explains:

In the private sector … employers who are too generous with pay and benefits will be punished. In the public sector, however, more union members means more voters. And more voters means more dollars for political campaigns to elect sympathetic politicians who will enact higher taxes to foot the bill for the upward arc of government spending on workers

Big Labor has already bankrupted our nation’s once great auto industry. But who will Big Labor turn to when Big Government has bankrupted us?