union membership

Posted: February 20, 2015
By: Clay Cerny

 

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has announced that he will sign what is called “right to work” legislation. To be clear, this legislation enables workers at union work places to opt out of union membership and dues. Under this law, some workers will be able to benefit from union negotiation without paying dues. Eventually, no one will want to pay dues, unions will disappear, and workers will be left on their own to take what management will give them. Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) cheered the law saying: "The public widely supports worker freedom and the potential positive impact to the state's economy can no longer be ignored."

In reality, as union membership has fallen in the U.S., so have wages. Take a minute and review the chart in this article from Huffington Post. From 1968 to the present, middle class income and union membership has declined at almost the same pace. I could call that many things. It is not freedom.

P.S.  Daily Kos's great labor writer Laura Clawson gives her take on the parallel decline of unions and wages while also critiquing Nicholas Kristof for being late to the the party.

Posted: January 29, 2013
By: Clay Cerny

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has put forth a big proposal:  unionizing workers at McDonalds, Walmart, and large hospitals that currently don’t have unions.  Reich’s real concern isn’t union growth so much as it is finding a way to deal with growing poverty and lost income in the U.S.  It’s not just the least among us who are suffering.  Reich cites a study that shows the bottom 90% of American wage earners lost 1.2% between 2009-2011.  He tracks the rise in worker income in the 1950s and its decline since the 1970s to the rise and fall of union membership.  Workers are losing.

Who has been winning this game?  The most wealthy Americans, the same people who attack unions and the poor.  Reich argues that a country with more evenly distributed wealthy would help all Americans.  Unfortunately, too many people don’t share his view.  We live in an “I got mine and I want more” culture.  Until that changes, expect more of the same.

P.S.:  Writing in Think Progress, Pat Garofalo reports that nearly 50% of Americans are one financial misfortune away from poverty.  Unions would help make our society more stable and secure.  Of course, so many Americans have been bamboozled by the corporate media to believe in a "freedom" that leaves them at risk and makes only the super rich more secure.