The decline of organized labor and America’s middle class

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Dr. M.L. King, Jr and Walter Reuther Photo credit: (CC BY 2.0)

In 1950, America had the richest middle class in the world, but now U.S. workers face wage stagnation and historic wealth inequality. When President Trump said "the system is rigged," workers believed him. That's according to Steven Greenhouse, author of “Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor.” In his new book, he traces the ups and downs of the organized union movement, including how the unions went from being embraced for providing wages and benefits to being seen as corrupt and linked to mobsters.

Greenhouse discusses the roles of Walter Reuther and Dr. M.L. King, Jr. in labor history. In the era of financialization and the “gig economy,” can unions renew their challenge to corporate power?  




Warren Olney


Andrea Brody