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Unions and the Middle Class Crisis

Paul Krugman’s column today is a clarion call.

Some of the wage cuts, like the givebacks by Chrysler workers, are the price of federal aid. Others, like the tentative agreement on a salary cut here at The Times, are the result of discussions between employers and their union employees. Still others reflect the brute fact of a weak labor market: workers don’t dare protest when their wages are cut, because they don’t think they can find other jobs.

Whatever the specifics, however, falling wages are a symptom of a sick economy. And they’re a symptom that can make the economy even sicker.

…But the unemployment rate is almost certainly still rising. And all signs point to a terrible job market for many months if not years to come – which is a recipe for continuing wage cuts, which will in turn keep the economy weak.

Meanwhile, unions are manning the lifeboats, especially on EFCA, something that Specter opposes, which should give everyone pause. As unions like UAW prove they’re willing to take deep cuts where they’re required, while remaining the last vestige of the further falling paycheck.

Look at what’s happening at the Boston Globe. Read the comments on this latest development, as conservatives believe this is their window, tantamount to Dems complaints about deregulation. As conservatives believe, unions are the problem and why businesses are failing. Keep it up, because it only proves why the blue collar trust in Republicans is unwarranted.

American dreaming you’ll one day be rich doesn’t make it happen when no one’s around to keep your wages from falling to a minimum.

Krugman gives Obama some credit in the last paragraph, while stating more needs to be done.

I’ll second that, with one avenue nobody is talking about. College is one thing, but the importance of having a real skill is another. Pres. Obama never talks about trades. You know, like repairing stuff. As my husband said to me recently upon his first venture into the job wars in over 25 years, air conditioning and heating repairmen are in demand all over Craig’s List. By the grace of the gods, my husband has talent; hand him two toothpicks and he can build you a shopping mall. But there isn’t enough understanding of how much tradesmen and women can mean to this economy.

We’re in deep trouble, as unions continue to step in and step up. With wages falling there is no bottom, except what can be applied by the unions. So goes unions. So go the middle class. Democrats need to continue championing unions, even as they remake themselves completely. They’re the only hope we’ve got, even when your company isn’t union. I’ve seen this myself in my own union life, then through my husband, who knows this first hand.

This nightmare is a long way from over.

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