As awareness grows nationwide about the widening gulf between the haves and have-nots, so do the opportunities to combat it. A new AFL-CIO report notes that more than 2.4 million workers are set to bargain on new contract through the end of 2016, creating an opportunity for sizable wage growth for many everyday Americans.
According to the report, working people who bargained for new contracts in the first half of 2015 saw their wages increase by an average of 4.3 percent, an increase of $1,147 a year for an average wage earner in the U.S. These increases are up from 2.9 percent in the first half of 2014, with substantial wage wins occurring in sectors from nursing and oil to airline pilots and teachers.
The Teamsters have registered their share of contract victories this year, whether its was a deal recently struck covering Silicon Valley shuttle bus drivers serving Apple, Yahoo and eBay or an agreement covering nearly 500 Tuscon, Ariz. transit workers who came to an agreement after a 42-day strike. These contracts show the value of union membership.
As the collective bargaining document notes:
We are in the midst of an exceptional moment for raising wages through collective bargaining. Millions of American workers will have bargained contracts by the end of 2016, and considering that most of the largest organized workforces are going to the bargaining table, it is likely that more workers will be seeking raises through the collective bargaining process in 2015–2016 than at any other point in recent American labor history.
Collective bargaining is our best tool for raising wages in America. It should be front and center as Congress considers policy and as presidential candidates announce agendas. Moreover, the results will illuminate the larger issue underpinning chronic wage stagnation: that vibrant worker organizations are key to restoring the balance of economic power in our country.
That's why the Teamsters and other worker advocates fight so hard against the forces who try to do away with them, like the recent victory in Missouri. Workers lose when so-called right-to-work legislation wins, with big business raking in additional profits.
Unions play a pivotal role in the future of this country. If workers want better salaries, the best way is to join one like the Teamsters. That way workers have a bigger voice at the bargaining table.