Why You Should Care About the Decline of Labor Unions

Unions help the economy as a whole: Eric Liu
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2013 1:30 PM CST
Why You Should Care About the Decline of Labor Unions
Hundreds of demonstrators stand on the steps of the Washington State Capitol to protest against unions on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 in Olympia, Wash.   (AP Photo/The News Tribune, Peter Haley)

Union membership is at a 97-year low in America, with just 11.3% of workers belonging to one. Because you're probably not one of them, you probably don't care about this low point—but you should, writes Eric Liu in Time. Not only do unions lift wages for their members, they also lift wages for the rest of us "by creating a higher prevailing wage," Liu writes.

"The presence of unions sets off a wage race to the top. Their absence sets off a race to the bottom." But most Americans don't see it that way—rather, many see unions "as special interests seeking special privileges, often on the taxpayer’s dime." But consider this: Workers in unions are making a better wage, and are thus less likely to rely on government assistance. "The weakness of labor is everyone’s problem—and its revival everyone’s opportunity." Click for Liu's full column. (More labor unions stories.)

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