According to the most recent report from the Labor Department, from July 2017 to July 2018, the cost of living was up 2.9 percent, while wages were up only 2.7 percent. This means that wages for many are failing to keep up with inflation as the cost of health care, prescription drugs, gasoline, and housing continues to soar.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, one in nine workers are struggling in jobs with earnings that fall below the poverty line even when working full-time, which may explain the brutal fact that more than half of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.
Meanwhile, as hard-working Americans are looking for ways to keep their heads above water, corporate America’s profits are soaring. Profits at S&P 500 companies are up over 20 percent and have reached record levels. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, whose company is fast approaching a trillion-dollar valuation even as it pays many of its workers poverty-level wages. The economy is clearly rigged — politically and economically. It continues to reward the wealthiest corporate elites while workers are left to worry about how they will earn enough to pay for rent or buy a house, keep their families fed and save enough to retire and live in dignity.
One method proven to lessen income inequality is strengthening the right of workers to join unions and negotiate a better life. Union workers earn, on average, nearly $10,000 more per year than nonunion workers. Union workers are more likely to have affordable health insurance, paid vacations, holidays and sick leave, fair scheduling, stronger workplace safety and health protections, as well as protection from discrimination and unfair or illegal treatment at work. For decades, politicians have sought to weaken the unions.
At some point soon, workers will cast partisan politics aside and say enough is enough with the economic struggles they have had to endure. They will grow tired of empty corporate promises and realize the enormous value they have when they stand together. In Missouri, union and nonunion workers came together and defeated right-to-work Prop A by historic margins — the first victory against a right-to-work law in decades. The real power to change America for the better does not begin with joining a political party. Rather, it begins with workers joining a union and negotiating the better wages and benefits their hard work deserves.