Unions are key to reducing inequality

“Unions are one of the keys to reversing the rise of income inequality,” noted a brief issued by the Oregon Center for Public Policy on Sept. 2, 2015. President Obama described the issue as the “defining challenge of our time.”

“Historically, organized labor has led efforts to create an economy that works for everyone,” the brief states. “Unions represent the fundamental right of workers to stick together and demand better pay and working conditions.

“Union efforts have resulted in worker protections such as child labor laws, safer working conditions, overtime compensation and the 40-hour work week. Following World War II, a vibrant U.S. labor movement helped support the development of a broad middle class by setting standards for wages and benefits.

“By the late 1970s, at about the time union membership began to decline nationally and in Oregon, income inequality began to widen. Income gains began bypassing most Oregonians, flowing instead to those at the top of the income scale. The decline in union representation is an important part of the story of the rise of income disparities in Oregon, and of disparities among Oregon men in particular.

“By bargaining together for better pay,” the brief concludes, “workers can reduce inequality and create an economy that works for everyone….Increased unionization would ease inequality and help low- and middle-income Oregonians prosper

For more go to http://www.ocpp.org/2015/09/02/20150902-unions-income-inequality-oregon/ or download the brief: Unions Are Key to Reducing Inequality .

Thanks to PNLHA trustee Jim Strassmeier for sending the brief to Oregon Update.