30 September 2012
The Republicans (who have always hated unions) have done their best to convince Americans that unions are evil and are hurting productivity in this country. They want Americans to think that doing away with unions would increase productivity and thus create many new high-paying jobs. Sadly they have been pretty successful in this effort. As you can see from the chart above, the union movement has been declining in this country.
But the Republican lies about unions have been exposed. Neither higher wages nor new jobs were created. It turned out that the biggest thing that pulled workers up to middle class status was the union movement, and as unions declined the middle class has started to disappear. The middle class share of aggregate income has dropped and the number of households in the middle class is also dropping.
The only people that have benefitted from the decline of unions are the richest people in this country. This shouldn't surprise anyone. The rich made huge sums before unions were established, and shared almost none of it with their employees. Now that unions have been weakened and are in decline, the rich have just returned to their old greedy ways.
When will American workers learn they have no economic power unless they join together in unions? Individualism may sound nice -- until you are faced with a greedy capitalist boss (and they are all greedy) who doesn't really care if you live or die. As an individual, you have no power (because you can easily be replaced with another warm body, who'll probably work for less). But when all workers organize and create a union, they have the power to negotiate decent wages, benefits, and safe working conditions.
This is not a new concept. Why must we have to relearn this every few generations?