The Detroit Mayor gives us an idea.
"Today in the city of Detroit," he tells me, "our union employee benefits cost 68% of what their base wage is. I don't think that happens in any other place in the country." To give a sense of how excessive those pay packages are, he adds: "When you look at one of the most dominant labor unions in the world, the UAW, they're nowhere close to what we give our city workers."
The mayor is quick to remind me that he is not antiunion. He joined the NBA players association in the late 1960s and hired a mostly unionized workforce at his firm, Bing Steel. But for months he has been locked in tedious negotiations and the aggravation is starting to show.
"The problem for the most part," he argues, "is poor union leadership. I think the rank-and-file aren't being told the truth. And I'm not going to B.S. anybody. I'm going to tell them the truth. They can't continue to ride this gravy train forever."
He poses this question to the city workforce: "Are you better off having a job and making 90% of what you're at today or having no job at all? To me, you don't have to be a brain surgeon to say I'll take that 90%."