Monday, September 07, 2009

Solidarity forever

In 2005, polls showed that 40 million non-union workers in America would unionize if they could.

40 million new union members would more than triple the number of unionized workers, which was 16 million in 2008, 12.4% of wage and salary workers. The percentage of the workforce composed of unionized labour has been dropping since the 50s (however, in 2008 it actually went up slightly from the 2007 figure of 12.1%).

Why unionize?

For example: A new survey of over 4000 workers in New York, LA, and Chicago, revealed that:
...the typical worker had lost $51 the previous week through wage violations, out of average weekly earnings of $339. That translates into a 15 percent loss in pay.

The researchers said one of the most surprising findings was how successful low-wage employers were in pressuring workers not to file for workers’ compensation. Only 8 percent of those who suffered serious injuries on the job filed for compensation to pay for medical care and missed days at work stemming from those injuries.
Never mind the fact that a full time job on minimum wage can, without any violation of the worker's legal rights, still be insufficient to live on. Hunter-gatherers can live comfortably on a 40-hour work week (or even a 20-hour work week, depending on who you ask), but this is not possible for many labourers in the civilized world of mechanization and automation and ever-increasing productivity.

What stands in the way of unionization, a right which is (on paper at least) legally protected?
One in five workers reported having lodged a complaint about wages to their employer or trying to form a union in the previous year, and 43 percent of them said they had experienced some form of illegal retaliation, like firing or suspension, the study said.
Happy Labour Day!

Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. (James 5:4)

No comments: