EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
Why in the world did Senate majority leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Democrats omit increased funding for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from the Inflation Reduction Act?
Across the country, workers are organizing to demand better wages and working conditions. From baristas at Starbucks to weary warehouse workers at Amazon to teaching assistants at colleges, the underpaid and overworked have had enough. But their efforts to form unions face forbidding obstacles, as corporations employ sophisticated strategies—legal and illegal—to obstruct, delay, and undermine them. Reform of our labor laws has been stymied for years. And the NLRB, the agency in charge of enforcing the protections that do exist, has been starved of funding and stripped of field staff, leaving it unable to deal with the explosion of labor law violations that come out of corporate resistance to this new wave of unionizing. (Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, owns The Washington Post.)
You needn’t idealize unions to understand the importance of worker organizing. As unions have declined over recent decades—suffering from unrelenting corporate attack, lax law enforcement, and corporate globalization—workers’ wages have stagnated and inequality has reached obscene levels. America’s pride—the broad middle class—has been profoundly affected as good jobs have been shipped abroad, entire communities have been abandoned, and deaths of despair, fear, and rage have spread. If the United States is ever to rebuild a robust middle class and an economy of shared prosperity, a vibrant, growing, and more powerful union movement is a national imperative.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.