A few numbers to help you understand the winners and losers in this time of great economic distress. Pre-tax corporate profits increased $388 billion from the second to the third quarter this year, while wages increased $68 billion. Also employee health premiums rose 13.7%, while employers’ contributions to workers health care programs dropped by .9%. Add an unemployment rate that will not budge because businesses won’t bump up hiring and the only conclusion that can be reached is that the rich get richer and the middle class gets the shaft.
Now there are many ways to look at why the middle class is getting the shaft; it could be the failed policies of Obama, or the refusal of the Republicans to cooperate with the White House, or the capitalist system is rigged in favor of big business and big banks, while the workers struggle.
But there is another answer out there and it involves a possible solution to this economic distress in the middle class. Unfortunately, most Americans have no interest in this solution. In a word it is unions.
In Europecountries like Germany, France and England have had recessionary problems but unemployment rates that are not so intractable and entitlement programs that provide a more secure safety net. But what these countries have are strong and active labor unions that challenge the government, take on big business, and demonstrate for better working conditions and better pay.
Right now 93% of the American work force is non-unionized, and proudly so. Americans often see unions as a goon squad that takes dues money and weakens the free market.Yes, there are examples of hard knock union bosses and annoying attacks on the free market, but what the unions do is fight for the working class and even the professional middle class.
Many fair-minded analysts of the European situation credit the unions for the far better conditions experienced in the labor force than that found in the U.S.It’s not rocket science that when people organize, speak with one voice, demand better pay and benefits and threaten their bosses with a strike, the result is often times some sort of economic victory.
So the growing gap between the haves and the have nots in this country is really not a mystery. It is the result of the organized power of big corporations and big banks and the lack of organization and power of the rest of us. Workers of the US unite.