Hiltzik on Workers’ Wages

Oh yeeeaaah!  That’s my reaction to Michael Hiltzik’s latest column in the LA Times touching on workers’ pay over the past several decades. They have been stagnant since the early-1980s. The reason for this, he says, is because employers stopped the practice of adding added productivity onto workers’ paychecks and instead giving it to shareholders. This accounts for the rise in inequality and poverty we’ve experience during that period of time. A staggering stat:

 Wages have been stagnant since the early 1980s. Hourly wages, adjusted for inflation, have been mired at about 80% of their level since 1960.

 This confirms what I remember in late high school. Teachers and administrators were discouraging students (or at least most of them) from going into the public sector. They thought students would be selling themselves short. Shortly after that the stagnation came. But it didn’t come to the private sector. Public sector unions kept wages up and members kept getting benefits. Private employers began cutting benefits as well.

Looking Back on the 2010 Elections—People who worked in campaigns felt the Republicans had run some numbers and come away with the feeling that there was some ill will towards unions, especially public sector ones. More than a few felt they’d be up to something right after the election. Lo and behold come February of 2011, along comes Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker with a plan to make Wisconsin a right-to-work state. Right after that came Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels doing the same thing. And then there was Michigan governor Rick Snyder following suit.

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About svaralyay

Steve Varalyay once covered labor and healthcare issues for Random Lengths News, a progressive biweekly serving communities in the the port of Los Angeles, CA. More recently he has written short historical fiction set in the South Bay of Los Angeles and his "Prohibition in the Harbor" won the Grand Prize for the 2011 Easy Reader Writing Competition. Steve has a BA in Spanish and a Minor in Labor Studies for California State University Dominguez Hills and live in Torrance.
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