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Inequality and you

[This editorial originally appeared in the Feb. 6 edition of the New York Teacher.]

You know how college costs today seem nearly out of reach for all but the most affluent families?

How so many families now are under financial stress and struggling to pay their bills, despite holding down jobs and working hard?

How housing prices in New York City keep climbing faster than wages, forcing more families to move farther out or to the suburbs?

That is income inequality at work.

Bill de Blasio made it the touchstone issue of his mayoral campaign. President Obama focused on it in his State of the Union address. Occupy Wall Street helped us all start talking about it.

The statistics are alarming. Since 1979, the share of total income going to the top-earning U.S. households nearly doubled. In 2012, the top 10 percent of earners took more than half of the country’s total income. An international study in 2013 found that the widest gaps between rich and poor are found in four countries: Chile, Mexico, Turkey and the United States.

The issue really hits home, though, when we consider how growing inequality hurts ordinary people and narrows the future possibilities for our children.

There are ways to close the income gap, and the president is right that government has a big role to play. Solutions include increasing the minimum wage, closing corporate tax loopholes and strengthening labor laws so that workers who want to unionize can do so.

As a union, our fight for fair contracts acts as a counterweight to the rising tide of inequality. So does our support for other labor campaigns, such as the fight by fast-food workers for decent wages.

Inequality affects us all every day. It is, as President Obama said, the defining issue of our time.


1 Comment:

  • 1 Phyllis C. Murray
    · Feb 12, 2014 at 2:38 am

    Equal Pay for Women: The Struggle Continues
    By Phyllis C. Murray.
    In the recent State of the Union address President Obama pointed out the following fact: “Women make about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. Women deserve equal pay for equal work.”.
    I found it truly amazing to hear the President address the issue of equal pay for women to Americans in the 21st Century and at the same time I really felt saddened to realized that the issue equity in the workplace has not been resolved.
    Case in point: My aunt passed away in 2001. She was 89 years old. While reading her class notebook, a short essay caught my attention. The Essay was written
    in 1931. And it states :
    A Woman Should Receive the Same
    Pay as a Man for Equal Work Performed
    By Inez Austin
    Thyne Institute High School, Virginia.
    A woman should receive the same pay as a man for equal work performed because a woman has to work as hard as a man if she is able to do as much as he does. It is said that a man should get more money than a woman because he has to support a family most of the time, but some people do not say that because sometime a woman has to support a family too. I think the person whether man or woman should be paid by the amount of work they do and the price should not be different for the same amount of work, if the woman can do it as satisfactory as a man. If a woman canwork as fast and do the same work as a man can do, she should be paid the same amount of money.
    My Aunt Inez Austin, was one of ten children. Like my mother, and many of her siblings, she attended Thyne Institute High School in Virginia. Thyne was a
    private boarding school for African American students..
    When Aunt Inez graduated from high school, she did not attend Hampton, thecollege of her choice. However, like many of the members of my family, she was very active in a life long struggle for civil rights.Furthermore, although Aunt Inez received a “B” on her essay, her perspective on life until the end was an inspiration to me.
    Today the struggle for equal rights for women continues in boardrooms, classrooms, and courtrooms. In time The Equal Pay Act of 1963 will provide some justice for women. However, to ensure this, we must see that a
    woman’s place is not only in the home, but in the House of Representatives and in the Senate.
    Phyllis C. Murray,
    Womens Campaign School at Yale
    University Class of 1999