The president may say the state of our union is strong, but the state of the American worker is not. Workers here are under siege. In an age of globalization and rapid technological change, wages have gone stagnant, retirement prospects are uncertain, and middle class security seems increasingly out of reach.
How can we assure everyday Americans can find good jobs at decent wages? How do we deal with the soaring costs of healthcare and college? What are the answers for the retirement crisis looming with millions of workers barely able to get by today - let alone put aside money for their golden years?
And what’s the role of unions in all this?
My guest is Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the fastest growing union in North America with 2.1 million members in healthcare, public and property services. Henry says the fast-food worker strikes and growing public frustration with extreme inequality makes her optimistic about prospects for social change. She notes that labor leaders used to have good relationships with top Republicans, and argues that the country has lost a space for pragmatic dialogue since these ties have frayed.
She also explains what labor leaders do all day.
I think you’ll find her perspective indispensable as you do your own post-State of the Union thinking.