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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Why Fight For Unions?



 So We Can Fight An Economy Rigged Against Us

Dave Johnson

Working family incomes haven’t gone up in the 21st century. Inequality reaches new extremes. Corporate profits are reaping a record portion of the nation’s income, while worker wages wallow at record lows. Three-fourths of Americans fear their children will fare less well than they have.
This Labor Day, we should do more than celebrate workers – we should understand how vital reviving worker unions is to rebuilding a broad middle class.

The raging debate on inequality and its remedies often omits discussion of unions. Inequality is blamed on globalization and technology that have transformed our workforce. Remedies focus on better education and more training, with liberals supporting fair taxes to help pay the cost.
[. . .] The decline of unions is indisputably at the center of America’s growing inequality and hallowed-out middle class. But what is also clear is that reviving shared prosperity and rebuilding the middle class isn’t likely to occur without reviving the ability of workers to organize and bargain collectively.

Summary:

  • America’s broad middle class was built when unions were strong, representing over one-third of the private workforce. Strong unions helped workers win better wages and benefits at the workplace, and championed vital reforms in the political arena — raising the minimum wage, creating Medicare, raising Social Security benefits, workplace safety and more – that helped build the broad middle class.
  • During those years, workers shared in the increased productivity and profits that they helped to create. Incomes on the bottom actually grew faster than top-end incomes. America grew together.
  • Then furious corporate campaigns succeeded in weakening unions. Laws banned powerful union-organizing tactics. Multinationals wrote trade rules that facilitated moving jobs abroad, enabling companies to threaten workers seeking better wages. Corporations perfected anti-union strategies. And with the election of Ronald Reagan as president, all gloves were off.
  • Unions now represent less than 7 percent of the private workforce. As unions declined, wages no longer rose with productivity. CEOs and investors captured ever higher portions of corporate income. The minimum wage lost value. Corporations gutted pensions and health care plans. Incomes on the top soared, while those on the bottom sunk. America grew apart.
  •  Please click through to Inequality: Rebuilding the Middle Class Requires Reviving Strong Unions.

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