Retirement, paid sick days, a steady schedule — in theory, these should be a given for all working people. In practice, not so much.

Right now, a little over 10% of the American workforce is part of the “gig economy,” according to the UC Berkeley Labor Center, which means that most or all of their main income comes from work they do as independent contractors or through temp, on-call, and contract work.

They aren't guaranteed direct deposits, they don't get paid-time off, and they often have to grapple with stagnating wages and self-employment taxes. Plus, there is no employer contribution when it comes to saving for retirement and health care coverage.

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The Rockefeller Foundation

For seven years, Sarah Clark has worked as a waitress and bartender at Pita Jungle in Phoenix, Arizona.

It's the kind of place where people order hummus plates, gyros, and maybe a couple of beers. The work keeps Clark on her feet all day, and now that she's nine months pregnant, it's the kind of job that she needs even more, with her baby due on Jan. 8, 2017.

Clark working at Pita Jungle. Image via Inside Edition/YouTube.

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Labor unions have been on the decline for decades after reaching their high-water mark in 1955, when they represented nearly 35% of the workforce.

Some (like my father-in-law) say that because they bargain for fewer and fewer people, they should just go away. Or that “they had a purpose at one time, but not anymore."

But others say the decline of unions is one of the primary reasons that income inequality in the U.S. is so extreme.

For example, economist Robert Reich shows in his movie “Inequality for All" how the ascent of labor unions decreased the income gap and grew the middle class. You can see the correlation pretty clearly here:

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