In the midst of the attack on organized labor going on in Republican governed state governments, many fail to understand how significant a role labor unions have played historically in promoting and protecting the middle class.
When unions flourished in the years after 1945 to 1980, the middle class grew dramatically in size and in prosperity. Labor supported civil rights, social security, medicare, and promotion of organizing rights for workers. They became the counterweight to corporations and Wall Street in the political battles that made America a nation in which gaps in income and wealth narrowed.
Since Ronald Reagan’s Presidency, union membership has declined from one third to about 7 percent, and with it, the working conditions of non union workers has worsened dramatically. What many people did not and do not understand is that when unions prosper, non union workers benefit as well, and when unions decline, all middle class workers lose out.
So we are seeing the middle class slipping in poverty, and with the decline of organized labor, the American Dream of a middle class life is fast disappearing!
This is why the labor battles in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, New Jersey and elsewhere are not just over state public service workers in those states. It is also the future of American workers who never have and never will be members of labor unions, but do not appreciate how much labor power did for them as they moved up the economic ladder, and now do not fully realize yet the growing power of the elite rich and corporations which care not a whit about their workers’ long term future decline, in their mad dash for maximum profits, minimal regulation, and insane passion for never ending concentration of wealth in their own hands!