Every week, North Star will take some time out of our schedules to bring you our favorite reads from the past week.
Economic inequality in the United States is at a historical high and greater than in any other advanced country. This inequality is manifested in lower life expectancy among the poor and extreme child poverty; 20% of U.S. children live in poverty—ranking the U.S. 34th out of 35 industrialized countries. The author attributes these alarming trends to the demise of organized labor. A series of hostile Supreme Court decisions and an expansion of so-called “right-to-work” laws in many states has led to an erosion of the rights of labor established in the 1935 National Labor Relations Act to organize, collectively bargain, and strike. As the right of workers to organize helped to create the middle class, the erosion of these rights has led to its demise. The author concludes by noting that:
“Unionization places the ability to influence what happens in the workplace directly in workers’ own hands, even as it creates institutions that can advocate for working people at the community, state, and national level. Under an effective labor-law regime, unions remain the unique vehicle for worker empowerment. As envisioned by Senator Robert Wagner more than eighty years ago, a strong union movement is the most effective tool for strengthening economic and political democracy.”
In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in our country’s history at an Orlando gay nightclub, the American Medical Association is adopting a policy calling U.S. gun violence “a public health crisis.” The AMA is the largest physicians group in the U.S., and has supported gun violence prevention measures since the 1980s, but will now take a more active role in urging Congress lift the 1996 ban on federal research on gun violence.