The current BART strike was a minor inconvenience for the public, compared to the sacrifices that were made by workers that went before us to fight for the rights that workers enjoy today.
There sacrifice brought us the eight hour work day, the 40 hour work week, overtime pay, maternity leave, paid vacations, safety rules, healthcare benefits, pensions and more .As labor unions organized they even impacted the lives of non union workers. Wages went up, even at nonunion companies. Health benefits expanded, private pensions rose, and vacations became more common. It was unions that made the economy livable for the middle class Americans.
Public opinion has it that most folks disapprove of the union workers strike. And some politicians are calling for laws that would prohibit public transit employees from striking. Steve Glazer, a political consultant, former adviser to Governor Jerry Brown and democratic candidate for Assembly has started a petition to ban BART employees from striking. 30 years ago Glazer would have been run out of town on a train by the democratic party for attempting to eliminate a workers right to strike… the main bargaining chip he or she has to negotiate.
The concentration of wealth into the hands of the top 1%, record corporate profits along with excessive executive pay, and stagnating wages for workers should be all the evidence we need that labor unions are more important than ever.
What has happened to organized labor?
Union membership has declined dramatically from the highs of 30% of the work force in the 1950s and the 1960s to a little over 12% today.
The Economic Policy Institute – Report Unions, inequality, and faltering middle-class wages
Between 1973 and 2011, the median worker’s real hourly compensation (which includes wages and benefits) rose just 10.7 percent. Most of this growth occurred in the late 1990s wage boom, and once the boom subsided by 2002 and 2003, real wages and compensation stagnated for most workers—college graduates and high school graduates alike. This has made the last decade a “lost decade” for wage growth. The last decade has also been characterized by increased wage inequality between workers at the top and those at the middle, and by the continued divergence between overall productivity and the wages or compensation of the typical worker.
A major factor driving these trends has been the ongoing erosion of unionization and the declining bargaining power of unions, along with the weakened ability of unions to set norms or labor standards that raise the wages of comparable nonunion workers. This preview of the forthcoming The State of Working America, 12th Edition presents a detailed analysis of the impact of unionization on wages and benefits and on wage inequality. Key findings include:
Download the report hereDownload
“Confessions of a Union Buster,” Martin Jay Levitt lays out how “human resources consultants” use fear and divide-and-conquer techniques to beat back employee efforts to gain representation.
Debunking Anti-Union Myths, Part One
Dr. Stephanie Ross of York University decimates the right-wing media spin about organized labour in North America. While many pundits tell us that unions are a thing of the past, in reality, their presence is desperately needed in a majority non-union workforce.
A little inconvenience is a small price to pay to protect the rights of American Workers.