With Labor Day past, labor's real day arrived last week when fast food workers protested in more than 100 cities. Hundreds were arrested as they demonstrated for higher wages, better working conditions and the right to unionize. They are seeking $15 an hour; Many now make the South Carolina minimum wage, $7.25.
Strong anti-union sentiment exists, particularly in the South. Business flocks here to take advantage of the low-wage environment, and works to keep it that way.
In the 1950s, 35 percent of the American workforce was unionized, and it was a time of growing prosperity.
Now the rate of unionization has fallen to 11.3 percent as the result a of sustained attack on workers' rights, weakening of labor protections and public opinion fostered by pro-business think tanks. Usually the fact that wages are flat and inequality has grown is attributed to globalization, technology and competition. But it also is a result of the attack on workers. We are making a choice to do just that.
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The Republican and Democratic parties have largely abandoned labor as they are beholden to big money. This year, business has spent over $230 million on lobbying, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has spent $54 million. Labor is not among the top 20 spenders.
And the vast majority goes to Republicans, a party not known for its support of workers. Check my figures on the website opendreams.org and get an eyeful.
Workers and unionization deserve support.