State of the Unions

Word Count
Hazard Community Technical College
BAS 267
Stephen Glasscock Glasscock 1
BAS 267
State of the Unions
In the early 1930’s a man by the name of Jimmy Ho'a led his )rst of many labor strikes.
Ho'a was working for a grocery store chain in Detroit, Michigan at the 0me, and he and his
co-workers refused to unload a fresh shipment of strawberries un0l they had landed a be2er
contract ( Ho'a became a rising star amongst the labor unions, eventually
joining the Interna0onal Brotherhood of Teamsters, and working his way up to the presidency of
the Teamsters’ in 1957 ( Ho'a is also known for having brought together
almost all of the truck drivers in North America under one contract, which has been declared as
his most decisive victory ( Although Jimmy Ho'a is the most popular union
organizer, the impact that labor unions have had on the United States economy, existed long
before, and long a<er, Jimmy Ho'a.
“The essence of what labor unions do—give workers a stronger voice so that they can
get a fair share of the economic growth they help create—is and has always been important to
making the economy work for all Americans,” (Madland and Walter). Labor unions are
probably best known for helping workers get increased wages. Back in 1886, Samuel Gompers
and the American Federa0on of Labor (AFL), successfully nego0ated wages increases for its
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members and enhancing workplace safety for all workers ( What the AFL was
doing in 1886, started a trend that is s0ll happening today. Unionized workers were receiving
11.3 percent higher wages than non-union workers, from the years 2004-2007 (Madland and
Walter). When worker’s wages grow, so does the economy. “Throughout the middle part of the
20th century—a period when unions were stronger—American workers generated economic
growth by increasing their produc0vity, and they were rewarded with higher wages,” (Madland
and Walter). If this trend had con0nued, and workers were compensated for 100 percent of
their growth in labor produc0vity, average wages would be around $28.53 per hour (Madland
and Walter). This is what created the middle class in the United States. And, of course, the
more money that workers can earn, the more money they will spend. As Rick Rieder explains,
“The combina0on of rising wages and reduced goods prices (led by technological innova0ons)
are paving the way for increased household savings at the very moment when the )nancial
needs of a growing pool of re0rees is set to crest and the cost of a college educa0on is