by Hamilton Nolan
For the vast majority of working Americans, wages have been almost flat for the past 35 years. How can regular working people get more money? Organize. And strike.
Unionized Verizon workers—the sort of skilled but blue collar jobs that are accessible to people even without expensive college educations—have just ended their strike of more than six weeks. Here are a few of the things they secured in their new contract:
- Profit sharing
- The protection of pensions
- Double-digit raises over four years
Here are a few things that the vast majority of working Americans will never see in their comparable but non-unionized jobs:
- Profit sharing
- The protection of pensions (or any pensions at all)
- Double-digit raises
Strikes work. Strikes have always worked. Strikes still work. Pro-business forces like to deride unions as socialist parasites, but strikes are, in a sense, one of the purest free market actions that workers can take: the refusal to sell labor at a price that is deemed too low. This has the effect of raising the price of labor. Though “Economics 101" idiots like to pretend that the free market will always magically produce the perfect wage for every job, the reality is that working people—people with less money—are always at a disadvantage when it comes to asserting the leverage necessary to raise their own wages, because they can’t afford to stop working and lose a paycheck. This is the biggest hurdle that strikes have to clear. It’s hard for working people to leave work, demanding better wages and working conditions. It’s a gamble. But it tends to pay off.
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