Union Card or Master Card -- How a Nation of Workers Became a Nation of Debtors
By Frank Joyce, AlterNet. Posted October 23, 2008.
Debt it is an important shaper of political and economic consciousness. The more you are in debt, the less likely you are to rock the boat.
It has been apparent for some time that the 20th Century US social contract is defunct beyond repair. Now the economic system faces the prospect of collapse as well. Not surprisingly, these developments are related. They did not come about overnight.
Looking back, it's easy to see that the system which emerged from the post-Bolshevik revolution, mass industrial production era of the 1920's, 30's and 40's was beginning to unravel by the end of the 1970's.
Union membership provides a helpful lens through which to view the process.
During the 1960's union membership bounced up and down within a narrow range ending the decade slightly higher than it began. But starting in 1970, it began a steady decline. In 1970 union workers were 29.6 percent of the work force. At those numbers, unions were able to exert considerable leverage over the wages, benefits and working conditions of all workers. By 1980 union workers were down to 23.2 percent of the total workforce. By the year 2000, union members represented just 13.5 percent of all workers. Today it is about 12.1 percent. Read entire article here.