From the spread of COVID-19 and the wave of state-imposed closures that followed to the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the unrest that ensued, 2020 was a year in which American institutions flailed and failed. And few failures were bigger or more apparent than those of public-sector unions.
By pushing to keep schools closed even as evidence mounted that in-person classes were relatively low-risk and remote learning was ineffective, teachers unions failed students and parents. By pushing to protect bad cops in the wake of multiple scandals, police unions failed the public they were sworn to protect. And in the process, America got a glimpse of what public-sector unions, regardless of the profession they represent, really do.
Unions that represent government employees seek to maintain an image of themselves as protectors of common institutions that can be relied upon to serve the public interest. But the upheavals of 2020 made clear that the priority for public-sector unions is the opposite: to protect the interests of taxpayer-funded employees, especially when those interests diverge from those of the public they nominally serve.