If you need to work to live in America, you're pretty much screwed—middle class, working class, poor. Productivity is rising dramatically, while pay isn't:
In fact, median family income has been stagnant for a decade:
Income inequality has risen to ridiculous levels:
Measure after measure after measure shows us how bad it is. The old saying is that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, but you don't have to be poor to feel the squeeze any more. It's hitting the vast majority of Americans. So what does all this have to do with Labor Day? With unions? Well:
The way union membership rates and the share of income that goes to the middle class have declined together isn't a coincidence
. According to one study, "the decline of organized labor explains a fifth to a third of the growth in inequality," affecting not just union members or people who've lost union jobs, but all workers. And that's not all, as you can see below the fold.
Unions don't just raise wages and help control inequality between those at the top and everyone else, they help reduce racial and gender inequality:
For instance, in 2010, non-union women working full-time made a median weekly income of 78 percent of white men, while among union members, women made nearly 87 percent of what men did.
As the study showing that declining union membership is significantly responsible for growing inequality put it, "Workers became less connected to each other in their organizational lives and less connected in their economic fortunes." And, disconnected, working Americans have grown weaker, have lost out on what should have been their share of the nation's prosperity. So, yes, unions matter.