As union membership declined, what happened to wages?
The evidence is clear. How clear?
This is a conversation starter about unions.
There's so much coming from certain parts of the political landscape that demonize unions, I thought it was important to get back to the basics on how higher rates of unionization mean a healthier economy with higher-paid workers who are happier.
Pretty simple, right?
Some fact-checky stuff:
First, a report from the Economic Policy Institute explains how the erosion of collective bargaining has widened the gap between productivity and pay. It includes another version of the first part of the graphic above, which clearly shows that American workers have become much more productive in the last 30 years, but our wages have gone down considerably.
Despite famous politicians claiming that we all need to "work harder," the reality is this: We're all working harder for a lot less.
And more fact-checky things: A Mother Jones article covers how the decline of unions matches the decline of the middle class, and another from Pew Research has five facts on economic inequality.
Finally, here's a video that attempts to look at both sides of the debate about the value of unions and whether they still matter.
I seriously don't think the jury is still out on the question of wages going down as union membership did. Just considering the graphics and data above, it's pretty clear that as unions go, so go our wages and working conditions. And our fair share of the American dream.
So, what can we do about it?
We can start by sharing stuff that refutes the traditional narrative that unions are no longer useful. We can also get involved in our workplace, whether unionized or not, and help propel change on the job.