Last month I read an alarming story in the news. A recent research study has unveiled that in spite of growing awareness and outrage over the world’s economic inequality, the wealthiest 1 percent are still growing at alarming rates. The study found by 2016 the world’s wealthiest 1 percent will own more than 50 percent of the world’s wealth. This is sobering to write. 50 percent of the world’s money will be controlled by 1 percent of the population.
We’ve all been aware and living through severe economic inequality for the better part of two decades, and nothing has changed. Make no mistake; addressing the problem of income inequality will be the most closely watched strategy for both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates in the 2016 election.
Organized labor is directly correlated with the growth and creation of the middle class. When Unions fight for better wages, working conditions, and benefits, our country succeeds. U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez noted the correlation last month:
“There is a direct link throughout American history between the strength of the middle class and the vitality of the labor movement. When unions are strong, working families thrive, with wages and productivity rising in tandem. But when the percentage of people represented by unions is low, there is downward pressure on wages and the middle class takes it on the chin.”
On average, union members make more a week than non-union workers, according to the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The need for organized labor is apparent, fast-food workers and low wage workers have been striking across the country for the last few years demanding collective bargaining rights. However according to new statistics, fewer and fewer Americans belong to a union. Membership is down across the country. That’s no surprise in correlation to the growing income inequality that plagues our nation. There are many variables contributing to why nationwide union membership is low: Corporate funded politicians push are pushing right to work laws, and government red tape has made union organizing more difficult than ever.
The more the gap grows between the rich and poor, the more people will seek unions for benefits, pay, and power to impact their working conditions. These are norms we all enjoy as union members, and benefits non-union workers hope for.
Another study that was released in January revealed union membership leads to a happier, more satisfied life. The study revealed that men and women belonging to a union were in fact happier with their lives than those who don’t belong to a union. I’m proud to be your President. Proud to belong to an organization and a movement fighting against corporate greed, fighting for equal rights, fighting for fairness and higher wages. I’m proud to be union.