The Stand

Four charts: Unions needed for middle class, American dream

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The following appeared at Think Progress and is posted here with the author’s permission:


(Sept. 3, 2013) — The sad reality this Labor Day is that many American workers aren’t enjoying the basic tenets of the American dream: a livable wage and benefits to match. Income inequality is skyrocketing, while worker wages stagnate and more and more people leave unemployment for low-wage, part time jobs.

There’s no coincidence here. As this video from the Economic Policy Institute outlines, the trend of declining unionization and rising income inequality mimic each other:


Another chart from the Center for American Progress backs up that point, showing how the income of the richest 1% has risen, as middle class incomes drop:

unions-middle-class-chart


Across the country in the last few weeks, strikes by fast food workers have illustrated that fair workplace treatment is still out of reach for some Americans. The strikes have become a massive rallying cry for a union and a wage raise in a time when labor disputes and walk-outs are at an all-time low.

This chart illustrates just how rare it is to see a strike like the fast food workers’:

labor-disputes-chart


But, like many workers, fast food employees could greatly benefit from the ability to collectively bargain. After all, their minimum wage jobs have actually become worth even less as time goes on. While those one percent of top earners are seeing a great spike in their incomes, the low-wage worker is feeling deflated. Their wages haven’t kept up with the US inflation rate, as this chart from Bloomberg News illustrates:

minimum-wage-and-inflation-chart

This evidence all amounts to a sad status quo for some American workers. And it’s something to remember on Labor Day, a day meant to celebrate the back-breaking work that makes this country run.

 

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