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By Robert A. Vella

There was a time in America when labor unions were powerful.  Yes, it’s true, they often abused that power.  But, now that they cast only a weak shadow of their former stature, we can plainly see the great costs of their decades-long demise.  The most expensive of those costs, a persistent erosion of middle class prosperity, can be visualized in statistical graphs comparing just a few common economic indicators.

The first was put together several years ago by myself on another blog and republished here (in a condensed form) right before the 2012 presidential election.  From The Secular JuristGraph shows when Middle Class began to erode:

Class War Graph (full size)

Compare that one to two 2014 graphs from Daily KosThe tight link between unions, the middle class and inequality in two charts:

Class War Graph - AFSCME 1

Class War Graph - AFSCME 2

The linkage between union participation in the workforce and American middle class prosperity is clearly evident.  One doesn’t exist without the other.  It should not be surprising, then, that neoliberal economic proponents – first in the Republican Party, and later joined by corporatist Democrats – would work so tirelessly to undermine collective bargaining rights in the United States.  So, the next time you might feel apathetic or antithetical towards labor unions, remember these graphs;  that is, of course, if you believe in the social value of a vibrant middle class.

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