Boeing Workers Have Less Bargaining Power Because We Have a High Unemployment Policy

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Friday, 13 December 2013 05:44

Harold Meyerson has a good column in the Post talking about how workers in the United States have little bargaining power with employers. This explains why profits have soared and wages have stagnated.

While Meyerson focuses on the weakening of unions it would also have been worth noting that part of the reason for the decline in workers' bargaining power is that the government has decided to run a high unemployment policy. Congress and the president have approved budgets that keep the unemployment rate high. They also support a high dollar policy that leads to large trade deficits and reduces employment. By keeping unemployment high, these policies have a substantial effect on the wages of large segments of the workforce, especially those in the bottom third of the wage distribution.

The piece also notes that Boeing wants to pay new hires $17 an hour and keep them at a below union wage for their first 16 years of employment. It notes that this pay is still well above the minimum wage. In fact, if the minimum wage had tracked productivity since 1968, as it had between its creation in 1938 and 1968, it would be almost $17 an hour at present.