The numbers don’t lie. While the economy has doubled since 1980, almost all the benefits have gone to the really rich – the top 1 percent. Who’s in this top 1 percent? 60 percent are executives. Their pay took a dip at the start of the Great Recession but now is growing at 23 percent a year, while wages for workers are growing at 0.5 percent a year.
Check out the chart below. Middle-class incomes have barely moved since 1982. In the same time, the incomes of the rich have skyrocketed. And the percentage of workers in unions has dropped.
Why? One factor is that corporations have often used illegal tactics to keep workers from joining unions through legal delays and campaigns of intimidation.
But there’s hope.
What can we do?
- Join our union. If you’re already in the union, be more active to help make us stronger.
- Sign a petition to say you support a new federal rule that would require union elections to be resolved in a fair and timely manner. Corporate interests are trying to block this, of course. It’s up to us to stand up and help rebuild the middle class.
- Or you can send a note directly to the National Labor Relations Board through the federal government’s website.
- Just being aware helps. Share the facts with your friends and families. Get engaged in the discussion by sending a letter to the editor of your local paper. And don’t be afraid to speak up, whether at work, in the community or in your family.
Sources: Wage data from IRS, compiled by Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, UC Berkeley; Union density data compiled by Gerald Mayer, Congressional Research Service; Data integrated and chart created by James Geluso, SEIU Local 521