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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 21, 2008 at 3:39 PM

A dwindling work force

We’re all getting old

America’s labor movement needs to change the public’s views of unions and their aims now while they still can.

The population is getting older, and this has drastic consequences for worker rights. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan announced that the growth rate of the working-age population is slowing from about 1 percent per year today to about .25 percent per year by 2035.

Thus, on top of the ever-declining union membership for the last 50 years, America will now have to deal with a declining labor pool. Couple that with an increasing need for high labor productivity across all industries and you’re dealing with a strong business incentive to cut wages, benefits and vacation time to increase productivity in an increasingly capital-intensive economy at a time when real wages have stagnated since the 1970s.

And while the number of elderly in the U.S. grows, the falling numbers of workers will necessarily be taxed higher to support strained entitlement programs. America needs a revitalized labor movement that fights for the protection of its workers, a living wage and against employer discrimination.

Support your local union, because better days for the American worker have passed.

— Michael Lang, Bellingham

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