The ability for ordinary working people to organize and collectively bargain over their wages and working conditions is a fundamental human right. It is a right just as critical to a democratic society as the right to free speech and the right to vote. Over the last 30 years many in corporate America and the big Wall Street banks have conducted a sustained attack on that human right. Unionization dropped from 20.1 percent of the workforce in 1983 to 11. 3 percent in 2013 -- and the results are there for everyone to see. The simple fact is that absent government regulation and collective bargaining agreements, the market by itself does not assure that everyone shares in the fruits of society's increased economic productivity. In fact, we know that just the opposite is true.
Last week JPMorgan Chase's Board approved a 74 percent pay raise for its CEO, Jamie Dimon, for 2013. Sometimes we get numb to numbers like $20 million. To put it in perspective, in 2013, Dimon made $9,615 per hour. In other words, he made more in the first two hours of the first workday of the year than a minimum-wage worker made all year long.
Working families haven't seen much of an economic recovery, and we definitely can't afford to lose more manufacturing and service jobs to yet another free trade agreement written by the State Department and multinational corporations. But that's exactly where we're headed if the Trans-Pacific Partnership moves ahead unchallenged.
Do you think the damage from the pending bankruptcy of the city of Detroit will be limited to Detroit? Think again. Detroit is partly the victim of economic trends far beyond its control, the downsizing and outsourcing of the auto industry and the collapse of the sub-prime bubble, to name just two. And yes, the city has suffered from corrupt and inept local government. But leaving Detroit to a bankruptcy process that favors investment bankers over local pensioners will neither provide a fair outcome nor contain the damage. It is a travesty that the federal government and the Michigan state government are not sending Detroit a lifeline. Other cities and states stand to lose both public services and pension benefits as this trend spreads. Chicago, which just suffered three levels of bond-downgrading, looks to be next.