Robert Reich: The Manufacturing Myth

In an op-ed published in The Baltimore Sun, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich points out the myth about manufacturing and the truth about labor unions.

“Suddenly, manufacturing is back — at least on the campaign trail,” writes Reich. “But don’t be fooled. The real issue isn’t how to get manufacturing back. It’s how to get good jobs and good wages back. They aren’t at all the same thing.”

Reich says good jobs and wages were once the bedrock of American communities – thanks to labor unions – but unfortunately today much of that has changed. “Manufacturing used to supply lots of these kinds of jobs, but that was because factory workers were represented by unions powerful enough to get high wages,” said Reich. “That’s no longer the case. If there’s a single reason why the median wage has dropped dramatically for non-college workers over the past three and a half decades, it’s the decline of unions. In the 1950s, more than a third of American workers were represented by a union. Now, fewer than 7 percent of private-sector workers have a union behind them.”

“The problem is the declining power of American workers to share in the gains of the American economy,” continues Reich. “Stronger unions are needed — in both manufacturing and in services.”

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