It’s Time to Turn Around America
Week after week, working people are marching to the ballot boxes in record numbers. Their votes are one of the many ways working families are standing up to change America, and the stakes are high. The economy is stacked against working people — friends and families are losing their homes, retirement security is an oxymoron, and millions of Americans are one accident away from a healthcare disaster.
This anguish wasn’t created overnight — our economy has been heading in the wrong direction for more than 30 years. Over those three decades workers’ productivity has increased by about 75 percent, but workers’ wages are frozen right where they were in 1973. Workers are producing more but paid less, and we’re stuck with the widest income and wealth gap of any industrialized nation.
When George W. Bush moved into the White House, he put our descent into inequality into overdrive. During his “reign,
Now the people who set us on this course have steered us into a massive housing collapse and a deepening recession. But this time, the financial scandals and the dramatic downturn in our economy are stirring a nationwide call for change.
Voters are realizing we weren’t put in this bind by accident, or the hand of fate, or the will of God. They are learning we were shoved in this direction by laws and policies created by corporations and politicians to push down wages and push up profits. Deregulation of basic industries so consumers can be victimized and shareholders short-changed. Downsizing government so vital services can be contracted out to profit-driven companies. Rules governing globalization written by corporations to favor corporations, pitting workers against workers and maximizing profits.
But most people still don’t know much about a fourth corporate strategy with a deep and deliberate impact on our standard of living — a 30 year assault on the freedom of workers to join unions and lift their families up through collective bargaining and collective political action. Employers have spent hundreds of millions to fight workers’ efforts to form unions, and to shred our nation’s laws protecting workers — and they’ve succeeded.
This employer war on workers is one of the key reasons union membership is essentially frozen where it was 30 years ago — at 15 million — and the percentage of workers who have a union has shrunk dramatically. And the employer war has had a direct impact on wage and benefit standards for all workers.
At a time when our nation’s working people are at the tipping point, a union card is the single best middle class-supporting program our nation offers. Workers who belong to unions make, on average, nearly one-third more than workers who don’t have unions, union members have better pension and health care benefits and those wages and benefits lift up standards in entire communities.
That’s why more than half of the people who don’t already have a union say they’d join one tomorrow if given the chance. So it’s no wonder that a 30-year decline in union membership has paralleled a 30-year decline in workers’ wages and benefits, and a downward turn in our nation’s policies.
Our weapon for restoring the freedom of workers to form and join unions is called the Employee Free Choice Act. It gives workers a free and fair chance to form a union — a chance they will never get under our nation’s broken labor laws.
We’ve made our choice. We’re determined to create an economy that works for all, not the few — including universal health care, fair trade, more transparent corporate policies — and a guarantee of the freedom to form a union.
It’s time to turn around America.
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