Unions have long been part of our nation's history, fighting for BETTER pay, safer working conditions, health care and retirement benefits, educations and civic participation. Unions have brought different voices together and their struggles have elevated the working conditions, the standard of living and the recognition of not just union members, but all of labor.
One thing the public does know is that union members, thanks to collective bargaining, have higher wages and better benefits. But union membership actually raises living and working standards for all working men and women - union and non-union. When union membership rates are high, so is the share of income that goes to the middle class. When those rates fall, income inequality grows - the middle class shrinks and the one per cent gets richer.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez issued the following statement on the department Bureau of Labor Statics report. "Today's report confirms what we've always known: That belonging to a union makes a powerful difference in people's lives, providing greater economic security and helping them punch their ticket to the middle class."
The Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that among wage and salary workers, those in a union make an average of $10,000 a year more than nonunion workers. That's not pocket change. There is also a much smaller gender pay gap for unionized workers. Women who are in a union come closer to equal with their male counter-parts than do non-union women.
There is a direct link throughout American history between the strength of the middle class and the vitality of the labor movement. It's not a coincidence. When unions are strong, working families thrive, with wages and productivity rising together. But when the percentage of people represented by unions and the middle class takes it on the chin.
Some of the core principles of unionism are "that all work has dignity." "All work deserves respect." "All the people who perform it deserve respect." And, "an injury to one, is an injury to all."