The Decline of Labor, the Increase of Inequality

Source: Rich Yeselson, TPM Features, November 9, 2015

….America’s labor unions, once a stalwart of the American economy, are now in similar danger of fading into oblivion, and with them, America’s defense against increasing income inequality….

….This is a brief summary of the narrative of labor’s modern declension. But why did this happen? Broadly, unionization diminished in the US for some of the same structural, macro-economic reasons it has declined in almost every advanced country in the world. But the decline also occurred for reasons intrinsic to the American political economy—in other words because of the vastly unequal power relationships between corporations and their political allies, and unions and their less reliable political allies. As the influence that labor had on the Democratic Party frayed with its shrinking size, the first order economic effects of inequality were compounded by the second order disappearance of a countervailing political alternative to business elites and their advocates in the Republican Party….