During the past 40 years, the productivity of American workers has continued to increase but their wages (adjusted for inflation) have barely increased at all.
Labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan, in his new book, Only One Thing Can Save Us, says this is because corporate America has decided that it doesn’t want highly-skilled, well-paid workers; it wants low-paid, replaceable workers.
The middle class is the middle 60% of income earners, between the top and bottom 20%
Many evils flow from this. Working people and the middle class have take on more debt in order to buy homes, pay for higher education or maintain their material standard of living.
Bankers and financiers find it more profitable to invest in debt than in the production of goods and services.
This results in the financialization and hollowing-out of the U.S. economy.
Geoghegan thinks the one thing that can save us is a labor union movement strong enough to win wage increases sufficient to keep up with the increase in the production of wealth.
This will give working people and the middle class enough buying power to generate a real economic recovery.
It will enable them to pay down debt. Shrinking the debt industry will free up money to be invested in producing real goods and services.
Labor union contracts will make it harder to lay people off at will. This will give employers an incentive to invest in training to make their workers more productive, which union apprenticeship programs can help with.
With more Americans earning good incomes, tax revenues will increase and governmental budgets will be more in balance. With fewer jobs being shipped overseas, the U.S. trade deficit may shrink.
A politically powerful union movement will bring American politics into balance. The USA will have both a left wing and a right wing rather than, as at present, only a right wing.
He advocates reforms to strengthen labor unions, including:
1. Making union membership a civil right.
2. Allowing members-only unions without NLRB elections.