As we leave another Labor Day behind us, I cannot help thinking about how four decades of neoliberal policies affected the working people of this country. The neoliberal promise was the free market’s hidden hand, once liberated by tax cuts, deregulation and deunionization, would bring prosperity to all.

Today, it is only fair to ask if that promise has come true.

According to the Department of Labor, the union membership rate was almost halved, from 20.1 to 10.5 percent, between 1983 and 2018. The American families’ combined wealth did increase from $30 trillion in 1989 to $67 trillion in 2013 with one major caveat: the bottom 50% did not benefit from the generated wealth at all, whereas the top 10 percent’s wealth increased by 155% (source, Congressional Budget Office).

The way I see it, the neoliberal economics has exacerbated the income inequality and disillusioned millions of American workers.

I believe the time is ripe for bold policy ideas aimed at creating an economy that works for many, not for the few: $15 an hour minimum federal wage, industry-wide bargaining, eliminating the roadblocks in front of unionization and collective bargaining.

No electoral victory or charismatic leader alone can materialize those policies unless millions of working people who believe in an equitable economy organize and get their collective voice heard loud and clear.

Kerem Gungor, Sabattus

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