Wednesday, January 30, 2013
“The Decline of Unions Is Your Problem Too”
“It’s a vicious cycle: as unions decline, fewer people see their fates as bound up with unions, which just accelerates the decline.” This is a tragedy when you consider two facts. First, “when unions are stronger the economy as a whole does better…and unions lift wages for non-union members too by creating a higher prevailing wage.” It’s ironic that the very corporate leaders who are so against workers organizing have spent billions organizing themselves to rig policy in order to inhibit union growth.
Unions are also instrumental in stabilizing the economy. If you look throughout America’s history, our economy (and everyone who was a part of it) did better when labor unions were at their strongest. “Once union membership started falling, the income divide grew. Since 1973 the drop in union membership accounts for a full third of the growth of wage inequality among men.” If unions disappear, who will act to defend the rights of workers?
If not unions, then what? - Baltimore Sun
Matt Vidal, a labor sociologist at King’s College London, said that his research clearly showed the most efficient, productive factories in the U.S. were union factories. Judging by this article, it’s clear that a unionless future only means an increase in (an already absurd) income inequality.
Workers of the World, Sit Tight - New York Times Magazine
Monday, January 28, 2013
It’s Time to Grow. No Excuses.
What’s one of the surest ways to make the economy grow and combat income inequality? You probably guessed it: Unions.
“Last week, the government reported that the unionized share of the U.S. workforce dropped again, to a 97-year low. The percentage of organized workers in the private sector dropped to just 6.6 percent. This is not because most workers don't want a union. It's because enforcement of the Wagner Act (guaranteeing the right to join a union) is so weak that workers know that if they try to organize a union, they risk getting fired. President Obama has promised to fight Republican obstructionism through the use of his executive powers. He signed 23 executive orders to reduce gun violence. How about an executive order like the ones President Roosevelt issued barring any company that violates the Wagner Act from bidding on a federal contract?”-Robert Kuttner
Obama's Heaviest Lift - Huffington Post
“If you care about deficits, you should want our economy to grow faster. If you care about lifting up the poor and reducing unemployment, you should want our economy to grow faster. And if you are a committed capitalist and hope to make more money, you should want our economy to grow faster.”
The urgency of growth - Washington Post
Friday, January 25, 2013
1% to Middle Class: “Stop crying, you’re better off than ever!”
Some economists on the Right are now trying to convince the middle class that we are actually doing better than ever! By using cherry-picked figures and unfounded assertions, two conservative economists wrote in an op-ed that because Americans spend less on “basics” than we did in the 50s, we should stop whining and be happy with the scraps we are receiving. Unfortunately, they fail to account for what really counts as “basics” in today’s society (gas, health care, and education), while also neglecting to mention that Americans are working longer and harder than ever for the same flat wages. Finally, they make the assumption (without citing any figures) that because some “ordinary” Americans have iPhones, we are enjoying many of the same luxuries as the 1%. We will believe that line of reasoning when we aren’t living pay check to pay check and all have car elevators installed in our homes.
Yes, the middle class really is falling behind - Washington Post
Unions are critical to the survival of the middle class, driving up wages not only for their members, but historically for the entire work force. The unions badly need the President’s active involvement in the struggle against [anti-union] G.O.P. initiatives, many of which are being helped along by the right-wing’s most prominent donors.
What Can Obama Do for the Labor Movement? - The New Yorker
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Want a Middle Class? Strengthen Unions.
If it wasn’t clear yet, trickle-down economics is a joke. It hasn’t and never will work. If we want our economy to grow, our officials should put their focus on growing the middle class. “There is a large--and growing--body of research showing that the economy grows from the middle out and that seemingly "soft-hearted" notions about investing in people or communities are actually the key to a competitive economy.”
“Three-fifths of the jobs created during the economic recovery were low-wage, according to an October study from the National employment Law Project. While most of the jobs lost during the recession paid middle-class wages.” Once again, the key to growth lies in strengthening the middle class.
Is it really that hard for our elected officials to see that the Right’s continued assaults on labor unions have significantly hurt the middle class? “As the number of union workers has declined in recent years, so too has the middle-class’ share of income. Income inequality has spiked during the same timeframe.”
CHART: Labor Strikes Become Rare As Employers Gain The Upper Hand - Think Progress
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
With stagnant wages and increasing costs of living, Americans are forced to tap into their 401 (k)s just to make ends meet. Now, just one in five workers has a pension, and with wages not going up with productivity, retirement is looking increasingly grim for many Americans.
401(k) breaches undermining retirement security for millions - Washington Post
“New reports out today from AARP and its Public Policy Institute underscore how the tough economy has taken a toll on the middle class, including those over age 50. They say these workers have seen their incomes fall, their savings shrink, and have gone deeper in debt.”
Pensions, one of the best tools to ensure retirement security, have been disappearing over several decades. It’s hard to even think about retirement when hard-working Americans can barely afford to put food on the table, but this is still an issue Washington needs to address in a comprehensive approach to strengthening the middle class.
CHART: Pensions Have Been Disappearing For Decades - Think Progress