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Mon Jun 23, 2014, 07:02 AM

Inequality and the Case for Unions


A rally for workers' rights in Buffalo, NY. (Photo: Lady Buffalo/cc/flickr)

Across the country, Republican legislatures – encouraged and financed, as usual, by corporate money and right wing think tanks-- have undertaken a stunning array of initiatives designed to weaken unions and otherwise undermine American workers. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, along with several other Republican governors, has moved aggressively and conspicuously to disempower public sector unions. Nikki Haley, the Republican Governor of South Carolina, recently declared that unionized businesses are not welcome in South Carolina.

Republicans tell a tired, cynical story about all of this, insisting that union busting is, somehow, good for the economy and good for workers. It’s the same old trickle down nonsense.

Democrats, on the other hand, have done too little to defend unions and worker rights.

This systematic attack on unions is, of course, bad for working Americans. Unionized workers in the US earn more money than non-union workers with similar skills (14% more, according to the Economic Policy Institute). Unionized workers are 28% more likely to have employer provided health insurance and 54% more likely to have employer provided pensions. Unionized workers enjoy more vacation time, and they are more productive than non-union workers. Countries with high rates of union coverage enjoy lower rates of inequality and lower rates of poverty, and their workers enjoy greater economic security. And, further, a robust union movement raises pay and working conditions for non-union workers as well.

What’s not to like?

In 1973, 27% of US workers were unionized. Now, it’s just 13% -- the lowest rate among the world’s rich (“industrialized”) countries. It is no coincidence that the U.S. is, by every reasonable measure, the most unequal of the world’s rich countries.

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Reply Inequality and the Case for Unions (Original post)
xchrom Jun 2014 OP
OLDMDDEM Jun 2014 #1

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Mon Jun 23, 2014, 08:25 AM

1. The Middle Class

We've all heard it before. Unions helped make the middle class the middle class. Through the 1970s, they were a huge part of our employed workers. Then the Reagan Era hit us and all of a sudden all of the air traffic controllers were fired and the union was busted. Then other unions in the public sector were busted. Then the private unions were getting smaller and smaller. Along with this, the middle class was getting smaller and smaller. We have a lot to be thankful for from the unions. They helped all of us get the benefits that every hard working individual has earned. They kept child labor from remaining child labor. They made a pathway to the American dream. For many now, that dream is gone. The hourly wage for workers has not risen based upon an inflation basis since the mid 1970s. Greed has shown up with all types of companies, but especially Wall Street. I just read an article about a person thought it was unfair that his bonus was ONLY $8 million because he told his mother it would be more than that. WTF is wrong with these people? Many people will not make $1 million in their lifetime. Why is it that a CEO, or in the previous case a broker, think they deserve so much in bonus or wage? Why? No one is worth that kind of money. No one. Carly Fiorina was let go from her job a Hewlett Packard and made a bundle on being let go. She did to a terrible job, but why would she get slightly more than $20 million? 18,000 were laid off at HP. She's just one example, but I think the answer to all of this is greed. If you have a reputation going into a job that meets the ideals of the Board of Directors, then your pay package will be huge. The workers be damned. This is all about greed. Why not fire the Board of Directors and replace with some from the working class (middle class) and some from the executive group which is currently 100% of most of the Boards of Directors. Our system sucks.

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