Government union leaders are amassing greater power within the federal government under the Obama Administration and their growing influence poses a threat to both national security and deficit reduction efforts, according to the newly released book "Shadowbosses" by Mallory Factor, a professor of International Politics and American Government at The Citadel.
The influence of government unions has grown while President Barack Obama has been in the White House, Factor claims, with some union officials meeting more often with the president and his staff than cabinet officials.
"Some of the union bosses talked about how they talked with somebody at the White House every single day," Factor said in an interview.
Factor contends in his book that union influence within government agencies, including the Obama Administration's decision to allow the TSA to be unionized, represents a growing threat to national security. According to Shadowbosses, Unions represent 20 percent of the Department of Defense's workforce and a third of Homeland Security employees, including border patrol, Customs and Immigration and FEMA agents.
While a federal statute passed in 1978 prevents active-duty military, the CIA, FBI, Secret Service and National Security Agency from being unionized, Shadowbosses reveals that the law doesn't apply to civilian employees working for the military. As a result, more than 20 percent of U.S. military employees are union members, according to Shadowbosses.
The power of union leadership, which Factor says pursues political agendas that are not always supported by their membership, is reflected in the billions of dollars of annual union dues that it can spend in support of politicians and issues the leaders favor, he said.
"They have huge power," Factor said. "Take a look at just the teachers unions - they have $2 billion a year in dues. A lot of that they use for political purposes. Remember, money is the gasoline that runs the engine of our socialism in this country -- and these government employee unions have tons of money."
All told, Factor said that his book documents that government employee unions collect at least $14 billion in annual dues, much of which are used for political purposes.
The total amount of dues is probably closer to $20 billion a year and is likely to go up as a result of Obamacare, which Factor said union leaders played a key role in helping to get enacted through their influence on members of Congress and the hundreds of millions of dollars government unions spent in support of the legislation.
"They got it passed for one simple reason - there's going to be 21 million people in healthcare because of Obamacare," Factor said, adding that union bosses were motivated by the opportunity to add more of those employees to their union rolls. "Keep in mind this little number - for every million new members they get, it's approximately $1 billion, yes one billion dollars, in dues and most of that gets used, or a lot of that gets used, for political purposes."
Factor's book also makes the case that government unions are among the reasons for the growing size of the federal government and the national debt. He points out that there are almost 500,000 federal government employees earning more than $100,000 a year and receiving up to 10 weeks of annual vacation. Union leaders, meanwhile, typically earn more than 10 times as much as rank and file members, with salaries reaching more than $800,000 a year.
In addition, Shadowbosses reveals that taxpayers subsidize unions to the tune of $1 billion a year in the form of salaries paid to government employees while they are doing work for their unions -- which adds up to about 23 million total work hours a year.
Shadowbosses concludes by questioning whether union bosses are usurping taxpayer control over the political process, saying "it is a battle for the heart and soul of our country."
It's a provocative ending to a book that is clearly intended to stir up the debate about the role of unions in government.