Harriet Young explains eloquently in her letter to the editor the historical context in which we find the state of our economy today. Capitalism and corporate greed have presently won over workers' rights and economic equality. The question she did not address is where do we go from here?
The United States of America saw the largest growth in the middle class and, arguably, the time of greatest class equality in the period immediately after WWII. GIs were coming home from war and going to college thanks to the GI Bill. Unions were strong and wages were increasing. These factors allowed the middle class to prosper and millions of Americans realized their dream of owning their own home.
In the 1980s we saw a relaxation of corporate oversight and the beginning of the end of the workers' power. Unions were successfully being demonized by the corporate elite and people began to lose faith in their unions.
In the 1990s, in hopes of further spurring economic output, there was an additional decrease in corporate oversight that eventually led to the Great Depression in 2008. Wages stagnated as union membership nationwide decreased to 7 percent and the rights of workers were severely curtailed at the state levels. In Wisconsin in 2010, we saw how state government can further destroy unions by passing legislation.
The biggest misnomer came about when states, like Arizona, became "right to work" states. These rules essentially give all the power to corporations when deciding when to limit wages and terminate employees. Arizona should be called a "right to terminate" state.
It is now time to call out all those supporters of "the worker" and those nationalists who want to keep jobs in America. It is time for action. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) should have all their positions filled with worker advocates. A federal minimum wage needs to be passed at $15 an hour. Unions need to be allowed to organize without undue impediment by corporations or the government. Lastly, there needs to be an equality of wages for all workers, no matter their race or sex as non-white and female employees still get only a fraction of what the white male receives in this country. Only when these actions are taken by our politicians will we begin to see wages rise and the economic inequality shrink.
GREGORY JARRIN, MD