Working people got a well-deserved boost this week from Labor Secretary Thomas Perez. In an op-ed, Perez echoed what so many of us know to be true: that having a voice on the job is a key force in driving upward mobility and expanding our shrinking middle class.
“Historically, there has been a direct link between a dynamic labor movement and a thriving American middle class,” Perez writes. “Union members enjoy higher pay, superior benefits and safer workplaces. Plus, unions put upward pressure on wages and labor standards throughout the economy, boosting the prosperity of members and nonmembers alike.”
Indeed, there is a direct correlation between a workforce that is paid a living wage, works in a safe environment and has retirement security and a thriving middle class. That’s because, as Perez notes, the work of unions has a ripple effect in local communities and throughout the entire economy. When unions are strong, the economy is strong. When the economy is strong, the middle-class prospers.
Working people in transportation — where union density remains high — know well the advantages of being represented by a union. Strong collective bargaining in transportation sectors means these employees enjoy higher pay, better benefits and more job security than their low-wage counterparts. That is the essence of TTD President Ed Wytkind’s middle class series in the Huffington Post linking an expanding transportation sector to a growing middle class.
Sadly, the venomous anti-union, anti-government ideology that has seeped into our politics over the last three decades has contributed to a steep decline in union membership and has prevented too many working people from enjoying the benefits of collective bargaining. That’s why TTD and our 32 affiliated unions remain committed to fighting for policies that give private and public sector transportation employees the opportunity to exercise their rights, without fear of harassment or intimidation.
Working people across the economy understand that their earning power is sinking and that the super-rich are securing a disproportionate share of America’s enormous wealth. They need to be educated that only through a strong and growing labor movement will they have the chance to share in the bounty from their hard work.
Read Perez’s full op-ed here.