It's no secret that public sector jobs have taken a beating in the recession and slow recovery. A total of more than 600,000 jobs at all levels of government have been eliminated since 2009, and while other sectors of the economy have bounced back (at least a little), public sector organizations continue to shed workers.
This has had a deep impact on the labor unions representing those workers, according to James Sherk, a researcher at the Heritage Foundation. While most union jobs in the United States are now government positions, the Washington Post notes in a report highlighting Sherk's work, the number of unionized public sector workers dropped by 230,000 from 2011 to 2012.
Part of the reason is the overall decline in government employment. But another factor is the ongoing effort by elected officials, such as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, to scale back employees' collective bargaining rights. There's not much point in joining a union if it can't vigorously support your interests.