There is nothing more important than a strong union to fight for its workers. It is the last and best check against the greed of corporations. But over the past decade, we’ve seen an unprecedented attack on our unions from the Tea Party and governors like Bruce Rauner and Scott Walker. As a result, union membership in the U.S. is the lowest it’s been in more than a century.
There is some temptation to blame unions when states are unable to pay their bills, but those who do are deeply misguided. The rise of unions correlates strongly with the rise of the middle class, and it’s no surprise that our middle class is struggling now in a world of diminished union power.
We must strengthen our unions and expand the right to collectively bargain to more industries. But there are other measures we must take to re-balance the employer-employee relationship as well. Workers are being asked to work more and more for less and less reward. We need to work towards a society where employers have to fight to hire workers, and fight even harder to keep them. We need a race to the top in offering high-quality salaries and benefits. One way to address this is to guarantee health care to every citizen, which would remove a lot of the leverage an employer has over its workers. People would no longer feel compelled to stay at a company that mistreated them for fear of losing health coverage.
People are so afraid of losing their jobs, they’re willing to put up with employers who force one person to do the job of two. This means that not only are more people out of work, but those who do work are unbelievably stressed, unable to live the kind of life they want, and prone to poor health. This is a big part of the reason why our health care costs are so high in the United States.
We need to change the rules that allow companies to squeeze every ounce of work from their employees without offering any commitment, benefits or fair compensation. Ultimately, we need to shift the balance of power back in favor of workers so that companies have to compete against each other for their services, and not the other way around.
Paid for and Authorized by Ryan Huffman for Congress