Short History of Unions in the United States
Ralph Profitt | October 26, 2019

Let us take a quick review of organized labor unions in America.   First -- some of the more broad based benefits:
A basic 8 hour per working day with brief morning and afternoon breaks and a 5 day 40 hour workweek -- with 2 day weekends, with built-in overtime requirements, and vacation eligibilitys.   They helped institute unemployment benefits, minimum-wage laws, and banning child labor.   They were behind Social Security under FDR, and Medicare under LBJ's Great Society.

As American industry started booming in the post-WW11 era -- in 1954 nearly 35% of American workers belonged to a union.   They succeeded in greatly expanding the American middle class -- built on a working formulation of good paying jobs with generous benefits for all working people.

Between 1978 and 2011:
The average worker saw a 5.7% increase in annual pay;
Top executives got a 726% increase in salary;
A classic case of the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer.

Later -- as manufactures began outsourcing work for cheaper foreign labor, the American economy continued to grow, but left a shrinking blue-collar work force abandoned and behind, that immediately began to stymie union growth.   This was all further encouraged by numerous American active political favors and huge tax-abatement's to both foreign and domestic companies to start or continue non-union business in their respective areas.   Future growth sectors of the economy are now occurring in high paying technology fields requiring more highly educated skilled workers -- leaving increasing mass numbers of less educated workers in lower service paying positions -- essentially destroying earlier previous more affluent socially mobile middle class workers of our previous manufacturing economy;
leaving them pretty much at the mercy of the dollar cost-effective emphasis of most businesses, where excessive profits is first and foremostly important.


Today only 6.7% of American workers are employed by for-profit companies belonging to a union.   A higher 35% of government workers belong to unions in today's economy.   Between 1978 and 2011, the average worker saw a 5.7% increase in annual pay, while top executives got a much higher 726% increase in salary:   A classic case of the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer.   Today -- the top 10% of American income earners take in 50% of all the money earned in our Nation, and the top 0.1% claim 10% of all total income.

But here's what's of deep concern.
I regretfully see no easily sustainable bridge between the ever widening gap of wage and income inequality occurring in our Country.   There's no large manufacturing base or similar structures such as occurred in the 1950's, 60's, and 70's in the then thriving auto industry to sustain them, where relatively unskilled principally manual labor could make a sizeable work income.   Today, many of our present base of mass workers are frequently living in high unemployment areas, or often slaving away at slightly above or close to minimum wage levels:   forcing many to literally live pay-check to pay check, while being aggressively thwarted in preventing any attempt at union organizing.

I am not sure where all this is going to lead us, but it is deeply disturbing.

The 5th chapter of James warns the rich:   Do not cheat the working class.

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you.   2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.   3 Your gold and silver are corroded.   Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire.   You have hoarded wealth in the last days.   4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you.   The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.   5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence.   You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.   [NIV]



 
 


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