Find out more →

Get unlimited access. Become a digital member!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Belatedly, regret for the decline of unions

Posted By on Tue, Jun 5, 2012 at 6:06 AM

LOOK FOR THE UNION LABEL: Garment workers strike in 1909.
  • LOOK FOR THE UNION LABEL: Garment workers strike in 1909.

Joe Nocera, inspired by a new book by Tim Noah on income inequality, decides maybe unions aren't such a terrible thing after all.

Union representation of workers has steadily declined to about 12 percent of the workforce (though with an even punier representation in Arkansas, the "union bosses" remain a sure applause line for wingnut Arkansas Republicans.)

“Draw one line on a graph charting the decline in union membership, then superimpose a second line charting the decline in middle-class income share,” writes Noah, “and you will find that the two lines are nearly identical.” Richard Freeman, a Harvard economist, has estimated that the decline of unions explains about 20 percent of the income gap.

This makes perfect sense, of course. Company managements don’t pay workers any more than they have to — look, for instance, at Walmart, one of the most virulently antiunion companies in the country. In their heyday, unions represented a countervailing force that could extract money for its workers that helped keep them in the middle class. Noah notes that a JPMorgan economist calculated that the majority of increased corporate profits between 2000 and 2007 were the result of “reductions in wages and benefits.”

Where'd the lost wages go? You know the answer to that one. Fatter-than-ever executive paychecks.

Nocera thinks liberals need to rethink joining labor's side. Some liberals — with a choice between labor and multi-millionaire executives of poorly run corporations intent on damaging political agendas — never left.

PS — Gene Jeffress, 4th District Democratic congressional candidate, sent out a photo today of his visit to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers hall to pick up a contribution.

Tags: , ,

Speaking of...

Comments (17)

Showing 1-17 of 17

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-17 of 17

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • 'Freedom': Another word for lots to lose

    When the Family Council's Jerry Cox and the sex-obsessed Catholic bishop, Anthony Taylor, (more concerned with prohibiting contraception and oppressing gay people than helping immigrants) join hands in the name of "freedom" you may be sure universal freedom is not what they're talking about.
    • Jun 7, 2012

Most Shared

  • Hot Springs firing range declared a "Muslim free zone" by its owner

    The owner of The Gun Cave Indoor Shooting Range in Hot Springs, Jan Morgan, announced yesterday that she is banning the presence of Muslims in her business. Her reasoning: "Why would I hand guns and ammunition to people whose religion commands them to kill me and my non-muslim patrons?" OK, let's get that lawsuit rolling.
  • Americans for Prosperity sends out hundreds of thousands of mailers with fake voter registration information in North Carolina

    North Carolina's ABC affiliate reports on hundreds of thousands of mailers with false information about voter registration sent by Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers. The official-looking mailers gave the wrong deadline for voter registration and told people to sign up with the wrong state agency. The mailers also gave the wrong office for questions regarding voter registration, the wrong zip code for turning in a voter registration form, and inaccurate information about how people would be notified of their precinct.
  • How the South became dead red

    Good piece in Politico from Stanford sociology professor Doug McAdam on the roots of our modern partisan divide. McAdam tells the familiar story of how the South flipped, as yellow dog Democrats in the old Confederacy abandoned the party in the wake of the Civil Rights movement.
  • Beverly Carter's body found in shallow grave on Highway 5 in northern Pulaski County — UPDATED

    The Pulaski sheriff's office reported early this morning that the body of Beverly Carter, the real estate agent apparently abducted while showing a home near Scott Thursday evening, had been found in a shallow grave near Cabot. The charges against Arron Lewis, her suspected abductor, have been upgraded to capital murder.
  • Mark Pryor highlights Cotton votes against Paycheck Fairness and Violence Against Women Acts

    Sen. Mark Pryor today began what the campaign is dubbing a "Women for Pryor" statewide tour. Pryor is highlighting Cotton's votes against paycheck fairness legislation and the Violence Against Women Act (all together now: the only member of the Arkansas congressional delegation to do so). Pryor was joined by his mother, the former first lady of Arkansas Barbara Pryor, at this morning's event at the Fresco Cafe in Fayetteville. Events will be held across the state to mobilize women in support of Pryor to vote.

Most Viewed

  • Sen. Jason Rapert reacts to Beverly Carter's death with proposal to abolish parole in Arkansas

    Sen. Jason Rapert reacted to the death of Beverly Carter with a proposal on social media to abolish parole in Arkansas. Seeking to do everything in our power to construct public policy that curtails crime and protects citizens is of course vitally important. Indeed, keeping folks safe is a foundation mission of having a government — of having a society — in the first place. Awful tragedies happen, in Arkansas, and the rest of the nation. Events like these rightly shake us. They rightly force us to examine our policy choices. But to conclude that the panacea is locking up more people, and locking them up for longer periods of time, strains credulity. Thoughts on criminal justice and incarceration in the wake of a tragedy, and a conversation with Rapert.
  • Hot Springs firing range declared a "Muslim free zone" by its owner

    The owner of The Gun Cave Indoor Shooting Range in Hot Springs, Jan Morgan, announced yesterday that she is banning the presence of Muslims in her business. Her reasoning: "Why would I hand guns and ammunition to people whose religion commands them to kill me and my non-muslim patrons?" OK, let's get that lawsuit rolling.
  • Beverly Carter's body found in shallow grave on Highway 5 in northern Pulaski County — UPDATED

    The Pulaski sheriff's office reported early this morning that the body of Beverly Carter, the real estate agent apparently abducted while showing a home near Scott Thursday evening, had been found in a shallow grave near Cabot. The charges against Arron Lewis, her suspected abductor, have been upgraded to capital murder.
  • AG candidate Leslie Rutledge's voter registration cancelled by Pulaski Co. clerk

    Leslie Rutledge has been kicked off the voter rolls in Arkansas due to the fact that she is concurrently registered out of state. Does that mistake make her ineligible to run for statewide office?
  • Americans for Prosperity sends out hundreds of thousands of mailers with fake voter registration information in North Carolina

    North Carolina's ABC affiliate reports on hundreds of thousands of mailers with false information about voter registration sent by Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers. The official-looking mailers gave the wrong deadline for voter registration and told people to sign up with the wrong state agency. The mailers also gave the wrong office for questions regarding voter registration, the wrong zip code for turning in a voter registration form, and inaccurate information about how people would be notified of their precinct.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2014 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation