US inequality debate turns to decline of unions

Fast food workers, healthcare workers and their supporters shout slogans at a rally and march to demand an increase of the minimum wage, in Los Angeles on December 4, 2014The US debate over inequality has turned its focus to an old front: the role labor unions play in boosting incomes of workers. After decades on the decline, some economists and activists are saying that the lack of organized labor power is an important reason why wages are not rising for middle- and lower-class Americans. President Barack Obama added fuel to the debate when he denounced on Monday a new law in Wisconsin that weakens the abilities of unions to build support in the workplace. “It’s no coincidence that the rise of the middle class in America coincided in large part with the rise of unions –- workers who organized together for higher wages, better working conditions and the benefits and protections that most workers take for granted today,” the president said in a statement.

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