A Fair Shot at the Middle Class

By Mark Naison

The US now features higher levels of economic inequality than it has since the late 19th century, a condition characterized by stagnant wages, bloated CEO compensation, insupportable levels of consumer and student debt and a housing crisis featuring families doubling and tripling up while millions of homes and apartments stand vacant. Until incomes rise for the majority of working Americans, our most serious social problems -from rising poverty, to racial tensions, to poor school performance-will worsen.

At this historic moment, we need a strong labor movement more than ever because unions have been our most effective instrument to move people out of poverty and assure that working people get their fair share of national income.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a time-the 1950’s- when 35 percent of the labor force was unionized and when everyone I grew up with felt they had fair shot at moving into the middle class.

I would like young people in this country to once again experience the optimism about their economic prospects my friends and I once had. But we need strong unions to get there and we need to unionize the low wage service sector jobs where most young Americans find employment.

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