A two-year fact-finding effort by four House members found that unchecked corporate power is threatening workers and must be altered if the nation’s workforce is going to be able to thrive in the years to come.
Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Donald Norcross (D-N.J.), Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) and Mark DeSauliner (D-Calif.) unveiled a report earlier this month that shows the growing influence of big business on the policymaking process has led to stagnating wages and a weakening of workers’ rights.
“Our labor policies must keep up with the rapid changes the 21st century has brought,” Dingell said. “We traveled the country hearing directly from workers. They told us the decline in collective bargaining, worker representation and the ability to form unions doesn’t just hurt workers, it hurts our communities and our economy.”
While U.S. workers remain among the most productive in the world, the report stated, they are not profiting from it. Income inequality reigns supreme, thanks to economic changes that have allowed the corporate class to cash in from growth while those who toil for them struggle to make ends meet.
Lax antitrust enforcement, for instance, has allowed companies to consolidate across industries, resulting in few and fewer corporations controlling the wages and working conditions of a growing share of workers. The paper notes this is particularly true in rural areas, where only a few employers may be posting jobs at a given time.
While unions have traditionally provided support for workers, the spread of so-called right-to-work laws and the recent Janus Supreme Court decision have threatened the ability of workers to join together and fight for better wages and working conditions.
That’s why lawmakers unveiled a slate of proposals that they say will help tip the scales back in favor of U.S. workers. They include overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling; strengthening antitrust enforcement; banning stock buybacks and curb the shareholder-first economy; and raising the minimum wage.
“With these recommendations, we can create real change and restore the American promise that a job can provide economic security, an opportunity to get ahead, a brighter future for you and your family,” Pocan said.