Across the country, right-wing legislators continue their attack on labor unions, claiming that they are saving their states money. Yet in waging these anti-labor campaigns, these politicians are ignoring one very simple fact: unions were a major force in building and sustaining the great American middle class, and as they declined, so has the middle class. As CAP’s Karla Waters and David Madland showed in a report they first published this past January, as union membership has steadily declined since 1967, so too has the middle class’s share of national income, as the super-rich have taken a larger share of national income than any time since the 1920s:
This is not to say that declining union membership is the only factor that led to the growth of income inequality over the past 35 years. Yet, the correlation does show that the presence of strong labor unions tends to co-exist with a strong and vibrant middle class. That is why a Main Street Movement all over the country is fighting to protect collective bargaining and the middle class wages, benefits, and protections it promotes.