The number of Americans in unions has fallen precipitously in recent decades, and working Americans—whether union members or not—are paying the price. Unless policymakers strengthen worker voice and power, the middle class will remain at risk. Workers are better off when they have a collective voice: They earn more in the labor market and can better stand up for their interests in democracy.
Despite the growing economy, middle-class workers are falling behind as the gains are mostly captured by those at the top. This is harmful to the country. Without a prosperous middle class to drive the economy, growth falters, society polarizes politically as trust declines, and the quality of democratic government suffers.
Study after study confirms that stronger unions are associated with higher wages, better benefits, a stronger middle class, increased economic mobility, and reduced poverty. As policymakers strive to make the economy work for everyone, they should be sure to include policies that increase worker voice and power in their solutions.