Youth thrust on union potency post ‘Occupy’ period

The millennial led ‘Fight for 15’ movement has gained momentum from where Occupy Wall Street ended. It shows a renewed interest in labor unions. 25 year-old Alicia White defied the vagaries of economic depravity by attending graduate school and college on a partial scholarship. Despite tireless efforts to get a job, she has been face-painting at kid’s birthday parties. She thought that she would carve a lucrative career after toiling so hard. The end result is that she has ended up precariously with $50, 000 of debt. This is no exception as one in every two college graduates is still unemployed or underemployed.

The middle class section also faces disparities and is bogged down by the country’s futile effort to pith a first-hand upward mobility. The inanities of educated workers getting low wages, chinless jobs have propelled a revised labor movement, which is a wide departure from its erstwhile dwindling type. You have diverse, young people fighting against what they perceive as faulty labor market. The aim is to effectuate a higher, minimum wage. It is seen the sole way to showcase income inequality alongside widespread poverty. The SEIU designed movement seeks to raise the fiscal parameters from $7.25 an hour to $15 per hour. It tested its novel legislative victory during last fall when SeaTac residents protested with equal grit.

30 year-old Ady Barkan, a Yale Law graduate and attorney staff in the Center for Popular Democracy in NY thinks this time, the enthusiasm has got doubled. This indicates that the movement has carried from the point where Wall Street agitation finished. He brands this as an identical “cultural movement”. The wage difference between non-union and unionized jobs is immaterial in the context of the movement. According to the Labor Statistics Bureau, the weekly median income of union members was $943 in 2012 as compared to $742 for those not involved in it. Annette Bernhardt, UC Berkeley’s visiting sociology faculty, opines that the abysmal prospects of young people elucidate the fact that it is impossible to revamp or restructure the economy with low-remuneration jobs. Inequality has created an “existential crisis for America”, she adds.

Considering demographic factors, the modest millennial has demonstrated a reversal of decade-old interest. Unions are aging out of the fiscal mold with their respective members. You have automation, outsourcing and a service-centric economy that has effectuated a fall in the share of national income. Union membership has hit rock bottom with only 11.3% density. Social pundits account this steep decline to the decay of the middle strata. Diversity is a conspicuous feature in the new labor movement, which reflects the dominance of Hispanic and black workers. The persistence of poor pay is galvanizing people who were not accustomed with a healthy job spectrum.