On this Labor Day, Larry Summers has a column in the Washington Post titled "It's time to balance the power between workers and employers." He writes of workers in general having "lost bargaining power over wages." (Workers with skills that are extremely scarce and in demand can bargain for higher wages on the open market.) Summers writes that only 6.4 percent of those working in the private-sector are union members — "a decline of nearly two-thirds since the late 1970s."
What can be done? He would like to see labor-law reform on the national agenda, including punishment for employers who fire union organizers, nontraditional union organizing encouraged, "even when they do not involve formal collective bargaining," and support for institutions such as employee stock ownership plans that "give workers a chance to share in profits and in corporate governance."
Someone responding to the column Unions writes of 15,000 Americans having died on the job every year before 1970 when the federal agency OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) was created. "Now," he writes, "it is just over 3,000."
Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.