The politicians and the media tell us the economy is recovering but most of us are struggling just to get by day to day. What does this even mean? For banks and corporations and the super rich, there is a recovery happening and it’s in their pocket books. Profits have never been higher in the history of recording profits in the US. And the richest 1 percent in the US has never controlled this much wealth.
Meanwhile, over 26 million people are still officially unemployed – though the real number is much higher. Foreclosures are once again on pace to be the highest on record this year, at almost 3 million. And at the same time, education, public transit, and social services are all facing massive cuts, and Obama and Congress are figuring out how to gut Social Security and Medicaid by $1 to 3 trillion.
The realty is, there is no recovery for working people. As the bosses and the bankers make record profits, workers are the one’s who are paying for them. We are doing more work with less pay – and as a result, the bosses have never been richer.
US Workers: Stressed Out and Overworked
- US workers are doing 400 percent more work today then we were in 1950.
- Per year, US workers work 137 hours more than Japanese workers, 260 hours more than British workers, and 499 hours more than French workers.
- 86 percent of men and 67 percent of women in the US work more than 40 hours per week.
- The US is the only industrialized country in the world that has no law guaranteeing vacation time.
- 178 countries have national laws guaranteeing paid leave for new mothers. 50 nations, guarantee paid leave for new fathers. The United States has neither.
The Auto Industry: The Model for Profits
In 2008, the major US auto companies, GM, Ford, Chrysler were crying bankruptcy. Now they are posting record profits. Their strategy has been the model everywhere. What was it?
Layoffs – Over 100,000 workers have been laid off.
Wage Cuts – A two-tier wage system was imposed forcing new workers to do the same work for half the pay. Wages have been frozen, and some workers have gone thirteen years without a wage increase. And overtime pay after 8 hours has been eliminated.
Health Care and Pension Cuts – Health care coverage has been completely cut for retirees as well as any cost of living increases.
Workers everywhere are seeing cuts in wages, benefits and retirements. Our hours are being cut, part-time is replacing full-time work, and positions are being eliminated. When someone gets fired, retires, or just calls in sick, they are not being replaced, and we take on additional work. Work is being contracted out and temporary workers are replacing full-time. There is plenty of work to be done but instead of paying more workers to do it, the bosses are using fewer workers to do more work while they pocket the extra cash.
So what do they mean when they say that the economy is recovering? Workers are doing more work than ever before and getting paid less to do it. Record work means record profits. Their recovery is nothing more than theft of our wages. And it’s about time we took it back.