I've seen you mention whistleblower protection repeatedly. You do realize that there is a complete mash of federal laws about 20 if I remember correctly that deal with whistleblowing. I can tell you a good number are environmental in nature (as in whistleblowing violations of the clean water/air acts etc), at least one deals solely with truckdrivers, and one is specific to corporate fraud, one act only states that government employees can't be retaliated against for a report to congress.
Now, if you look at the case Garcetti v. Ceballos 547 US 410 (2006) you'll find that the Supreme Court ruled that a government employee, acting in the capacity of their office is entitled to no first amendement protections because they are not acting as private citizens. Essentially, that sets a precedent that a human resource worker could discover that her boss is not hiring, lets say white folks, because they dislike caucasians. Our intrepid HR worker complains through channels and is soon transferred out to a job that pays less, etc. What can she do? Well, as it turns out, because she acted in her job capacity, not much. Had she gone public, there is perhaps a chance she might have protection, but would likely be sued for breach of confidentiality and if it isn't proven what her boss had done, could be hit with a defamation lawsuit as well.
Now look at the protections state by state, as each state offers various levels of protection. Here's a listing by state: http://www.ncsl.org/?tabid=13390
I'd like to point out that a number of states have no whistleblower protections, some states offer them only to public employees, and many fewer public and private employees.
Let's take a look at the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 as well. It protects only federal whistleblowers, and has three authorized agencies that enforce the act. One, the Office of Special Counsel. It hasn't had a permanent head since 2008 when Scott J Bloch stepped down. Bloch by the way would later be investigated for retaliating against employees, and also for not following up complaints filed by gay claimants. He later pleaded guilty to improperly deleting files (bringing in an outside firm to scrub agency computers of files related to investigations of his conduct).
Agency two, the Merit Systems Protection Board. Basically it is meant to protect Executive branch employees from wrongful termination. The most obvious being if an employee were hired during a one administration and later fired by a new administration simply for being of the wrong political leaning, basically the board is meant to prevent that. In the past decade, out of approximately 60 cases, less than five were decided in favor of terminated employees.
The third agency is The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. This court was critized by several lawmakers, including conservatives such as Senator Grassley (Iowa) for misinterpreting whistleblower laws and setting precedents hostile to claimants. This court, from 1994-2010 has found for claimants in only 3 cases out of 203.
Really before it can be claimed that unions are not needed anymore because whistleblowers have protection, they need to actually have protection.
Oh and just a couple references http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-03-14-whistleblowers_N.htmhttp://www.ncsl.org/?tabid=13390
and this was interesting reading, to me anyway.http://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1339&context=aulr