An Economy that Works for Working Americans
This Labor Day, many working families in America may not feel like celebrating. Approximately half of Americans are concerned that a member of their household will lose his or her job in the coming year. More than a quarter say that their household’s financial situation is now fairly or very bad. [CBS/ New York Times] American families don’t want more government bailouts for irresponsible banks or tax breaks for big oil companies—they want an economy that works for working Americans.
Workers make it, but corporate executives take it. The gap between what workers produce and what they take home has reached an all-time high. Since 2000, American workers’ productivity has grown by 19 percent, but income changes don’t reflect their hard work. Real median family income has actually fallen since 2000. [Economic Policy Institute]
Employers are denying workers the “union advantage.” Collective bargaining raises union members’ full-time median earnings by $10,400 a year. [Bureau of Labor Statistics] But union organizers and activists who try to help their co-workers form a union face a one-in-five chance of being fired for their efforts. [Center for Economic and Policy Research]
Forty-five years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act, pay still isn’t equal. Women earn 78 cents for every dollar earned by men. This gap costs the average woman $5,710 a year, causing an economy-wide impact of $319 billion. [Institute for Women’s Policy Research] For women of color, the gap is even greater: they earn about 60 cents for every dollar a white man makes.
After years of work, many Americans face an insecure retirement. Twenty-five years ago, 88 percent of workers who participated in a workplace retirement plan were covered by a defined benefit pension; in 2004, only 37 percent were. [Economic Policy Institute] Employers have shifted responsibility for retirement to workers through 401(k) plans, for which workers must shoulder most of the costs. Corporations that are cutting pensions for rank-and-file employees are using their pension funds to give oversized bonuses to executives. [Wall Street Journal]
Pro-worker policies are pro-growth policies. Wage-driven growth in spending is the best path to a strong economy. Without it, bubble-driven growth emerges, as it did with tech stocks in the 1990s and housing more recently [Economist Dean Baker] Fair wages for all workers help ensure healthy consumer demand and economic expansion.
Working families need government on their side. Businesses are charging families more and more for necessities, while employers are taking away benefits and workers’ rights. American workers need their leaders to stand up and ensure that big companies play by the rules.
Enforcing equal pay laws helps everyone. More women are working outside the home, which means more families depend on the salaries women earn. [Bureau of Labor Statistics] Raising women’s earning levels can also help raise the wages of their male co-workers.
Workers drive our economy, so our economy should work for them—not for special interests.
Freedom to unionize. American workers need the Employee Free Choice Act to protect their right to form unions and bargain collectively. More about the Employee Free Choice Act To sign a petition supporting the Employee Free Choice Act, click here.
Fair wages for all. Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act—which would strengthen protections against wage discrimination—and prevent conservatives from repealing the Davis-Bacon Act, which ensures that workers on public-works projects are paid the prevailing wage.