BOSTON (CBS) – Here comes another Labor Day weekend, which contrary to what some may think, is not about spurring back-to-school shopping.
It was actually created in the late 19th century to honor the labor movement, which was just emerging as a powerful force in American life.
Which makes it a good time to stop and think about where that movement is now.
Researchers at UMass Amherst have helpfully released a report on the state of labor in Massachusetts, showing unionized workers make four bucks an hour more on average than non-union.
I’m surprised that gap isn’t larger.
There are about 380,000 union members here, only 12 percent of the total workforce, down almost a hundred thousand members in just the past eight years.
Thirteen other states have a higher union density, the UMass report says.
And if it weren’t for government work, there wouldn’t be much in the way of unionization around here at all. Only 6.4 percent of workers at Massachusetts private sector companies are union, down sharply from a decade ago.
Meanwhile, public sector unions are growing fast.
It adds up to interesting times for labor here in the Garden of Eden. Leadership is appalled by the Republicans and Trump, even though lots of their rank-and-file voted for him.
And even if private-sector labor sees benefits from an economic surge, threats to the government funding that feeds public-sector labor are building.
Labor mostly backed Hillary Clinton last year, but now they’re shopping for someone new.
And it looks like it will have to be someone who wants to see more taxes, not less.
Good luck with that.