At one time, unions were seen as anathema to public employment. As unions grew in the private sector in the early 1900s, it remained inconceivable that public employees should have a role in creating public policy through collective bargaining. With the significant growth in the number of public employees, unrest, war, and poverty in the 1960s, anti-public-sector unionism ebbed and government employees gained the right to organize and participate in workplace decision-making, albeit with limitations. By 1960, union strength in the private sector began to decline; public sector unions quickly outpaced them. By 1992, 44% of public sector employees were represented by unions. However, the Great Recession of 2008 reignited the debate about public sector unionism as the pay and benefits negotiated by unions became the scapegoat for state and local governments’ fiscal concerns. This chapter describes the rise of public sector collective bargaining—the thorny attempt to apply an existing private sector model of unionism to the federal, state, and local governments and the current status of labor relations in the public sector.