More Unions Would Spell Higher Wages for Workers


After years of a growing wage gap between the haves and have nots, everyday Americans know something needs to be done to level the playing field. The answer? More unions.

The idea of beefing up unions won the endorsement of Time magazine, which said “a stronger labor movement may be the quickest way to spur the sort of broad-based growth (via wage hikes) that we need to create a more sustainable, robust recovery.”

The current state of pay is hurting a majority of people. A new report by the Center for American Progress (CAP) notes that while the income for the top one percent has more than tripled over the past four decades, wages for the bottom 90 percent have increased just two percent. As a result, the salary for a typical private sector employee, when adjusted for inflation, still languishes where it was in the 1970s.

To change that, there needs to be a new dynamic agenda that results in higher wages and productivity, the document states. By modernizing U.S. labor law, the document finds, the economy can grow while at the same time ensuring workers have a say on the job and are paid fairly.

“At the heart of this new system would be transforming unions from individual firm-level bargaining units into organizations or structures – perhaps very different from unions as understood today – that negotiate for higher wages and benefits across an entire industry or sector,” wrote David Madland, a senior fellow at CAP.

The plan also calls for the creation of work councils to increase the voice of workers on the job; encouraging membership in worker organizations; and protecting basic rights for all workers.

This proposal right now is just an idea. But the fact that such a plan is even being discussed shows just how far America has come in recognizing substantial change is needed to get this country back on track. The U.S. needs a bold change in policy to benefit its workers. CAP’s report is a starting point in the discussion.