By Bonnie Morr,
Vice President, Bus –
As I travel around the country working on grievances, arbitrations, negotiations and labor agreements, as well as the health and well-being of our locals and our members, one underlying issue is always present: wages.
Our wages are not keeping up with what our lives and our families’ livesare costing us. Food prices are up, the cost of milk is up, and gasoline and energy prices continue to rise.
But why are we losing our standard of living? Why am I shopping for food in Target? What happened to fresh food from our local grocery store? Why do I turn my heater down and wear a jacket in the house now? Why are energy companies seeing the highest profits that they have ever seen? Why is it costing so much more to do less than what I was doing 10 years ago?
Since 1997, according to the Economic Policy Institute, 100 percent of the wage growth in the American economy has gone to the top 10 percent of the income structure. The bottom 90 percent has seen income decline, adjusted for inflation. As the rich get richer, the working class continues to struggle. Economic inequality did not just happen accidentally or by an act of God.
At the AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting in Houston, I was told it is the predictable result of decisions made by people with power over the past generation. The key decision, the AFL-CIO says, was to use the power of government to help corporate America push down wages by destroying workers’ collective bargaining power. Those decisions can be reversed.
In Houston, I was told working people have the opportunity to shape the national conversation on this issue in ways that would really help workers win real economic improvements and build a true working class movement.
The AFL-CIO says the purpose of the labor movement is to give voice to working people, so we can improve our lives. All too often, people do not realize that they are voting against their own best interests. It is important that we work together, now, to spread the word. Support the union movement by joining together with a strong message to all our politicians: “Improve our wages!”