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Labor Unions Needed More Than Ever

September 4, 2019 Economy, Featured, Politics/Policy No Comments
One of the many cute dogs in Monday’s Labor Day Parade

The few at the top have been using the masses to pass laws designed to diminish unions — increasing their profits. As income inequality gets worse, labor unions are needed more than ever.

Collective bargaining is an important force in reducing inequality and ensuring that low- and middle-wage workers are given a fair return on their work. As productivity has risen over the last several decades, wages have remained flat for the majority of working people, while skyrocketing for those at the top. Union decline can explain one-third of the rise in wage inequality among men and one-fifth of the rise in wage inequality among women from 1973 to 2007. Among men, the erosion of collective bargaining has been the largest single factor driving a wedge between the middle class and the top 1 percent.

Working people in unions use their power in numbers to secure a fairer share of the income they create. On average, a worker covered by a union contract earns 13.2 percent more in wages than a peer with similar education, occupation, and experience in a nonunionized workplace in the same sector. But importantly, collective bargaining also raise wages for nonunion workers—as an economic sector becomes more unionized, nonunion employers pay more to retain qualified workers, and norms of higher pay and better conditions become standard. If union density had remained at its 1979 level, weekly wages of nonunion men in the private sector would be 5 percent higher today. (Economic Policy Institute)

Given the results of the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll it’s clear a majority of participants agree.with me.

Q: Agree or disagree: Labor unions are no longer necessary because laws protect worker’s health & safety.

  • Strongly agree: 4 [9.09%]
  • Agree: 4 [9.09%]
  • Somewhat agree: 1 [2.27%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 3 [6.82%]
  • Disagree: 3 [6.82%]
  • Strongly disagree: 29 [65.91%]
  • Unsure/No Answer:  0 [0%]

As usual, about 20% take the conservative viewpoint.

— Steve Patterson

 

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