That was the vision of middle-class Americans, who once modeled the image of what it was to be an American. The middle class is disappearing in direct proportion to the demise of the American union movement. After World War II, nearly 30 percent of our work force belonged to unions. Today, barely half that many are organized. Today, a few own the world’s resources, while most live in poverty.
Wages of $8 per hour are common. For most of these workers, there is no health insurance or retirement plans. The result? Taxpayers across the United States are making up for what employers should be paying with public assistance programs. That’s corporate welfare.
Why are wages so low? Because that’s the easiest way to increase profitability. The result? Today, the wealthiest one percent own as much of our nation as 90 percent of the rest of us. Corporate CEOs can earn 500 times the wages paid to their workers.
The freedom to form unions is a basic human right. In 1935, the US Government enacted the National Labor Relations Act that said, “Employees shall have the right to form…labor organizations…to bargain collectively… (and employers may not) interfere with…the exercise of…this right.”
In 1948, the US joined four-fifths of United Nations member states to ratify the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which included the right of all people to come together in unions.
Workers form unions because there is power in numbers. Where unions are strong, employers must bargain collectively to set the terms and conditions of employment. The demand for profits must then be compromised with fairness toward workers.