The Middle-class Future Is Up to Us

There's a bumper sticker that sums up the meaning of Labor Day for me: "Unions-the people who brought you weekends." From the 40-hour week to Social Security, every inch of the workplace progress we've made came not from generous corporate bosses and politicians, but from ordinary working stiffs who organized, fought, bled, and died to achieve it. Today, though, the Powers That Be want us to think of unions and workplace organizing as so much old history, no longer relevant to the new, global, laissez-faire, dot-com economy. We wish.

In fact, such organizing is essential today, for these same Powers That Be have been waging an ongoing war against the gains of the past and our middle-class potential in the future. Here are some reports from the front lines:

*Real wages are lower today than when Richard Nixon was president.
*Middle-class jobs are either being shipped offshore or being filled by bringing in low-wage workers to bust the U.S. pay scale.
*Job cuts are now at record levels, with the better-paying high-tech sectors (which were supposed to be our economy's new pathway the middle class) doing the most job whacking.
*25 percent of American jobs pay below the official poverty rate, and at least 40 percent of our jobs pay so poorly they leave hardworking Americans in either real or borderline poverty.
*67 percent of the adults now in need of emergency food aid are working people.
*Social Security, Medicare, and other mainlines of the old-age safety net are being snipped by privatizers and profiteers.
*Health care, child care, affordable housing, access to higher education, and other basics are beyond the reach of tens of millions of Americans, and their numbers are steadily growing.

This is Jim Hightower saying...A middle-class future is not a given, and right now it's being taken from us piece-by-piece by the power elites. To take it back, America's working people must come together and get back to the basics of building our economic democracy: organize, organize, organize. "A living wage for America's working poor"

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close
alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.