Is there a correlation between the drop in unions and the drop in defined benefits plans? It certainly seems like it. As defined benefit plans are going away, so is the safety net for older Americans. Most bankruptcy filers are under age 54, but there is a steady rise in bankruptcies of people over age 55.
Workers are struggling to stay afloat. Incomes haven't gone up in the 21st century. Inequality reaches new extremes. A record portion of our national income goes to corporate profits, while a record low goes into workers' wages. Three-fourths of Americans fear their children will fare less well than they have. This Labor Day, we should do more than celebrate workers -- we should understand how vital empowering workers and reviving worker unions is to rebuilding a broad middle class. The raging debate on inequality and its remedies often omits discussion of unions and workers' power. Our extreme inequality is attributed largely to globalization and technology that have transformed our economy. But this leaves power and politics out of the equation.
It is ugly individualism that underlies the political ideology of the rich industrialists who are spending billions in an effort to shred Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and who are attempting to stop the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Unions are an impediment to their grand scheme, so they're coming after us with a vengeance.
A long-awaited Qatar Foundation report recommends a radical overhaul of the labor recruitment system in Asian labor exporting countries as well as the Gulf state that expects to host the 2022 World Cup. The report, however, stops short of calling for the abolition of Qatar's widely criticized kafala or sponsorship system.