Workers have a lot to look forward to in 2019. Progressive governors, mayors, and state and local lawmakers are gearing up to debate proposals that would raise standards for workers, including legislation to increase the minimum wage; expand overtime coverage; and protect all workers from sexual harassment, discrimination, wage theft, and abusive noncompete contracts. Yet improving minimum standards laws alone will not reverse decades of wage stagnation, especially for working and middle-class Americans. Policymakers must also work to restore the power of working people in our economy and our democracy—first and foremost by strengthening unions.
Unions help workers negotiate with CEOs on relatively even footing for decent pay, benefits, and workplace conditions. Unions also give workers a voice in our democracy, driving voter turnout and advancing progressive priorities. However, decades of conservative attacks and a changing economy have weakened unions’ ability to advocate for working people. Between one-fifth and one-third of the rise in wage inequality over recent decades can be traced to the decline of union membership.The above excerpt was originally published in CAP Action.