Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Why young workers love unions so much

The Pew Research Center came out with a new poll showing that a majority of people have a favorable view of labor unions -- 10 percent more than two years ago, the last time that Pew asked the question.  And over 60 percent of adults younger than 30 support unions – even if fewer than 5 percent of them actually are unionized.  So why is there so much support?

Younger workers are increasingly introduced to a crappy economy with no safety net.  After the housing crisis, it has become harder and harder to find a full-time position, since companies can get away with treating workers badly.

Median pay has declined for workers, while corporate CEOs earn vast sums. Not only is America more unequal than ever, but the average CEO makes more in a day than an average worker makes in a year.

Even college, the traditional step for the ambitious young, is no longer the step up it once was.  Only
nine percent of low-income students can afford to even finish college, a gap that has increased 50 percent in the past 20 years.  And unaffordable student debt looms over all who dare strive for higher education.

Over 280,000 college graduates work in minimum wage jobs, qualifying them for government assistance and an overwhelming sense of depression.  In 2010, 15 percent of taxi drivers had bachelor degrees.  And they are the lucky ones; permainterns, with unpaid positions abound.  Little evidence has been offered that this new status quo is going to suddenly change if the economy ever turns around.

From Occupy Oakland to Moral Mondays, workers have protested for a better economic and political system, but changes to government are long and arduous.  On the other hand, labor protests are typically short and to the point.  Contract negotiations, strikes, and other labor tactics get people better working conditions and decent jobs time after time.  In 2012, full-time union members made over $200 more than non-union full-time workers. 

With those kinds of benefits, who wouldn't want to be part of a union?