Economic inequality is a runaway train that must be stopped and the most obvious solution, according to Todd Vachon, the head of Rutgers University’s Labor Education Action Research Network, is to involve the men and women who drive the economy in the process.
Put another way: States like New Jersey must empower local workers if they care about rectifying this societal imbalance.
Vachon’s piece, which is linked here to NJ.com, starts by emphasizing the startling statistics regarding wealth and income inequality in the country. The two paragraphs below are excerpted from NJ.com:
“According to the Federal Reserve, the top 1% of earners now take home 22% of all income in the U.S., the top 10% own 70% of all wealth, and real wages for American workers have been stagnant for decades. Rising inequality has been associated with increased social and health problems, lower life expectancies, decreased child well-being, a decline in trust in public institutions — including schools and governments— and an erosion of support for democracy itself.
To address this issue, Vachon advocates for a comprehensive approach centered on empowering local workers. He contends that one of the key drivers of inequality lies in the erosion of workers’ rights and the decline of organized labor. As union membership rates have declined over the years, workers have found themselves with diminished bargaining power and weakened job security. Vachon argues that revitalizing the labor movement is essential to reversing this trend.
He goes on to propose a multi-pronged strategy for empowering local workers. This strategy includes advocating for fair wages, strengthening workplace protections, and fostering collective bargaining rights. By ensuring that workers have a seat at the table and a voice in shaping their working conditions, Vachon believes we can begin to address the root causes of inequality.
Additional investment in education and workforce development programs at the community level are also needed. Vachon, also an assistant professor in the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers, writes that providing workers with the skills and training they need to thrive in a rapidly changing economy, we can create a more equitable society where opportunities are accessible to all.