As union membership declined, what happened to wages?

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?


Image from Too Much. Used with permission.

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.


Image from EPI.

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.

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Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

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In the Pacific Northwest, orca sightings are a fairly common occurrence. Still, tourists and locals alike marvel when a pod of "sea pandas" swim by, whipping out their phones to capture some of nature's most beautiful and intelligent creatures in their natural habitat.

While orcas aren't a threat to humans, there's a reason they're called "killer whales." To their prey, which includes just about everything that swims except humans, they are terrifying apex predators who hunt in packs and will even coordinate to attack whales several times their own size.

So if you're a human alone on a little platform boat, and a sea lion that a group of orcas was eyeing for lunch jumps onto your boat, you might feel a little wary. Especially when those orcas don't just swim on by, but surround you head-on.

Watch exactly that scenario play out (language warning, if you've got wee ones you don't want f-bombed):

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