Last year was a particularly bad year for unions, according to Mike Antonucci, director of the Education Intelligence Agency.

Antonucci reports that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, total union membership dropped by 612,000 between 2009 and 2010. Public sector unions also fared poorly, losing 273,000 members even though there were only 100,000 jobs lost at the federal, state and local level.

But they had a long way to fall. Antonucci reports that in the 2000s, the public sector grew by adding 508,000 members while the private sector unions lost more than 2.1 million members.

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“America has become an almost entirely non-union economy governed by a highly unionized political bureaucracy,” Antonucci wrote on his blog. “… Only political changes can reduce the clout of the public sector unions.”

What does Antonucci say is the way to reduce the clout of public unions?

“I hold what appears to be a small minority position these days - what was created through legislation can be removed through legislation,” Antonucci wrote in an e-mail. “Union privileges and organizational security provisions aren't written on stone tablets.”

Paul Kersey, labor policy director for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, notes that the BLS numbers show that Michigan’s unions also fared poorly.

“During 2010, employment in Michigan actually ticked up slightly according to BLS, as the state added 21,000 jobs (not an especially impressive number, as there are 3.8 million jobs in the state), but unions in Michigan lost 83,000 members, a decline in membership of 11.7 percent.”

“Workers, in Michigan and across the country, have lost their confidence in the union establishment” wrote Kersey.  “That loss of faith, reflected in declining membership and growing support for right-to-work, is entirely understandable.”

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Detroit Prep is a top-rated and economically and racially diverse charter school in the city. It's growth means it needs to move out from a church basement and into a new location. Nearby is a former Detroit Public Schools building, sitting empty for years. But, worried about competition, the public school district refused to sell. For years, district and local government officials in Detroit had worked to block public charter schools. They pushed legislation at the Michigan Capitol to hinder them, refused to sell to them, transferred surplus buildings from the district to the city government and imposed deed restrictions on property sales to private developers. All of it was aimed to hinder or even prevent charter school choice outside the confines of the Detroit school district.

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