Monday, September 10, 2012

Unions and Labor Inequality

I had intended to post this last Monday for Labor Day, but between hospital visits and spending time with my family, you know those pesky things, I didn't get it done.

I have said before, that one of the great ironies of the day is the number of people who say they are opposed to labor unions but gladly take the day off anyways.  Of course one of the great ironies this year was not only the fact that the GOP was trying to make labor day be about "job creators", which it's patently not, but they had just been chanting the week before "we built it" (even though that was not what Obama said) but doing so in a publically financed building that was built with union labor.

I have been a proud union member and was even a union rep, and my wife has also been a member of a union.  She is currently not covered by a union and the difference in work environment and what is tolerated has been stark.  Even a family member who didn't think unions did that much has noticed the difference.

What is also true is that with the decline in union membership, not only has income for the top 1% increased but middle class incomes have also declined.  It might be argued that these are not causal, although I certainly think they are, but they are certainly correlated.  Or as Edward Tufte has said,"Correlation is not causation but it sure is a hint."  So here are three graphs showing this discrepancy:

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