By Warren Tolman
Support for labor unions is on the rise, jumping five percentage points between 2014 and 2015. According to a Gallup poll conducted in August, a majority of Americans approve of unions, including a full two-thirds of young people aged 18-34. Americans approve of unions and most would like to see unions’ power maintained or strengthened.
But other recent data shows a disturbing trend – CEO pay has grown 90 times faster than typical worker pay since 1978. Many are being left behind as CEOs and executives earn more and more.
AFL-CIO President, Steven A. Tolman said:
As we celebrate Labor Day this year, we do so with the knowledge that the American people are recognizing labor’s important role in our economy. We also know that income inequality is at crisis levels and unions will help level the playing field. Unions are good for families, good for Massachusetts and good for the nation.
We are building a voice for all workers in Massachusetts – for the organized and the not-yet organized. We will fight privatization and income inequality and defend decent pay for an honest day’s work.
CEO pay is out of hand. When the CEO of McDonald’s makes well over $7million a year and the average McDonald’s worker makes so little that even working full time she can’t afford basic shelter and food for her family, something is deeply wrong. Many hardworking people are frustrated because, despite our sweat, our sacrifice and our innovation, too many of us struggle to support our families.
In the next year, the Massachusetts AFL-CIO will focus on eradicating wage theft in Massachusetts. Wage theft is a crime that is common across many industries. Billions of dollars are stolen from workers in this country each year when unscrupulous employers try to cheat the system. Examples of wage theft include: employers paying under the minimum wage, forcing workers to work off the clock, denying overtime pay, falsely misclassifying workers, stealing tips or flat-out failing to pay workers their earned wage. Wage theft victims are not just the workers, but also ethical businesses and tax payers. We need smart legislation to put an end to this crisis.
Over the past year working people have celebrated many victories in the Commonwealth and those victories have given our movement new energy. From minimum wage to the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights to earned sick time, workers are winning.
The fact is, across the country this past year, every time voters were asked to vote on their values, including wages, equal pay, education and paid sick leave, they voted for union values. This Labor Day we celebrate working families, because we are ready to speak up together, change the rules and bring lasting justice so that every family can pursue the American Dream and work for a better life.
Warren Tolmaqn is president of the local AFL-CIO.