Labor Perspective From Former NY Times Labor Reporter Steven Greenhouse: ‘Yes, America Is Rigged Against Workers’ - ‘No Other’ Industrial Country ‘Treats Its Working Class So Badly And There’s One Big Reason For That’
New York Times Editor’s Note: Steven Greenhouse, who was the Labor and Workplace Reporter for The New York Times for 19 years, is the author of the forthcoming book: “Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor,” from which this essay is adapted.
The United States is the only advanced Industrial Nation that doesn’t have National Laws guaranteeing Paid Maternity Leave.
In contrast, the European Union’s 28 Nations guarantee workers at least four weeks’ paid vacation.
Among the three dozen Industrial Countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States has the lowest Minimum Wage as a percentage of the median wage - just 34% of the typical wage, compared with 62% in France and 54% in Britain.
It also has the second-highest percentage of Low Wage Workers among that group, exceeded only by Latvia.
All this means the United States suffers from what I call “Anti-Worker Exceptionalism.”
Academics debate why American Workers are in many ways worse off than their counterparts elsewhere, but there is overriding agreement on one reason: Labor Unions are weaker in the United States than in other Industrial Nations.
Just one in 16 Private Sector American Workers is in a Union, largely because corporations are so adept and aggressive at beating back Unionization.
In no other Industrial Nation do corporations fight so hard to keep out Unions.
The consequences are enormous, not only for wages and income inequality, but also for our politics and policymaking and for the many Americans who are mistreated at work.
To be sure, Unions have their flaws, from corruption to their history of racial and sex discrimination.
Still, Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson write of an important, unappreciated feature of Unions in Winner-Take-All Politics: “While there are many ‘progressive’ groups in the American universe of organized interests, Labor is the only major one focused on the broad economic concerns of those with modest incomes.”
As Workers’ power has waned, many corporations have adopted practices that were far rarer - if not unheard-of - decades ago: Hiring hordes of unpaid interns; Expecting Workers to toil 60 or 70 hours a week; Prohibiting Employees from suing and instead forcing them into arbitration (which usually favors employers); and Hamstringing Employees’ mobility by making them sign Non-Compete Clauses.
America’s Workers have for decades been losing out: Year after year of wage stagnation; Increased insecurity on the job; Waves of downsizing and offshoring; and Organized Labor’s share of national income declining to its lowest level in seven decades.
To Continue Reading Greenhouse’s Labor Perspective, Go To: www.nytimes.com/2019/08/03/opinion/sunday/labor-unions.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage&fbclid=IwAR3fB-gcMQtfhSDzApJNoobXGSMt9_TvXpl1_9yoNY2U6rMk3sc9BBt_jSQ