07/15/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Collective Bargaining For America

After trillions of dollars in federal spending to lift our economy out of the greatest economic crisis in 75 years, we now know that besides financial deregulation and insatiable greed, the biggest cause of our crisis is 30 years of stagnant and declining wages. We also know that we cannot get out of this economic mess without increasing consumer demand.

Thirty years of stagnant and declining wages are the result of the systematic, intentional, strategic destruction of the freedom of American workers to form unions and bargain collectively. That is why we are working so hard to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.

But, corporate America did not erase these freedoms by itself. Radical right wing Republicans like those in Congress and the now disgraced Bush Administration did all they could to destroy collective bargaining.

They removed millions of workers from coverage of any labor laws including graduate workers at universities, misnamed and ill-defined supervisors, some disabled workers, and others.

But, it is in the federal government itself that the Bush Administration really concentrated on destroying collective bargaining. They destroyed collective bargaining for 160,000 workers at the Department of Homeland Security including 40,000 screeners in the Transportation Security Administration. They tried to destroy collective bargaining for almost a million workers in the Department of Defense. The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and a coalition of AFL-CIO unions stopped the assault at the Department of Defense.

And AFGE has waged a remarkable creative, strategic and energetic campaign to give TSA workers collective bargaining and organizing freedoms. In the absence of collective bargaining AFGE has organized a union of TSA workers to demand and campaign for collective bargaining rights.

Now AFGE has introduced legislation called the Transportation Security Workforce Enhancement Act (HR 1881) to grant TSA workers the same collective bargaining rights and workforce protections as other federal workers and end TSA's flawed personnel rules that have denied their workers thousands of dollars in increased wages.

It is critical that the Democratic Congress and the Obama Administration pass HR 1881 and reverse the Bush Administration's assault on collective bargaining in the federal workforce.

It should be abundantly clear and obvious by now that unions and collective bargaining are not economic culprits but are essential to long term, sustainable economic well being.

Collective bargaining is by far the best, more efficient and cost effective way to increase consumer demand by allowing workers to negotiate a fair share of the fruits of their work and productivity. Collective bargaining is the only way to build, expand, strengthen, and deepen the American middle class. The destruction of collective bargaining freedoms is the reason we all feel the squeeze on the middle class.

And unions are the most effective counterweight to Corporate Power. The thirty years assault on workers and their unions are the major reason that Corporate Power is out of control in America.

The cozy relationship between the Radical Right wing Republican Party and Corporate Power brought us a war in Iraq and billions of dollars to Dick Cheney's Halliburton Corporation and KBR in sole source military contracts, a deregulated financial services sector, insatiable corporate greed, a corrupt you're on your own business and government ethos, the destruction of the notion of the common good, our deep, painful economic crisis, and the consequent loss of trillions of dollars of U.S. wealth.

At least in part change we can believe in, means changing where the nation's wealth and bounty goes.

As 1000 business owners have shown, everyone benefits when working families have more to spend.