This post is by National Memo Editor-in-Chief Joe Conason.
The root causes of American economic stagnation are numerous and broad, but among the deepest are the decreasing percentage of productivity gains shared as wages, the plummeting of middle-class incomes and the resulting explosion of consumer debt. Tracking all those negative trends is the decline in union representation among American workers, whose wages and benefits invariably rise wherever they enjoy the benefits of collective bargaining and fall wherever they do not. But unlike the organized actors and athletes who are among society’s most admired (and well-compensated) laborers, most employees who want union representation will never get it, because federal law has long enabled employers to frustrate, stall, and stop union elections from taking place — until now.
On Tuesday, the National Labor Relations Board handed down a landmark ruling intended to improve prospects for those workers by reducing the legal impediments to union balloting and speeding up the process under which elections occur. From the US Chamber of Commerce to the National Association of Manufacturers to the Heritage Foundation, labor’s traditional adversaries howled in rage against the NLRB action, which is perfectly understandable. Every recent study shows that union organizing is on the rise, despite recent setbacks for public employees — and that when workers have the opportunity to vote union, they do more than two out of three times.