These are not heady days for labor. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, union membership stands at just 11.6 percent, and a big share of that is in the public sector. Understandably, many are afraid to try to bargain collectively, as their employers will simply close up or move their jobs elsewhere. Sadly, this is the often the truth.

However, a point is reached where making concessions and giving up rights and benefits makes jobs no longer worthwhile to try to save. The pay at a lot of fast-food restaurants and convenience stores is not much different than in much of manufacturing today.

Forty or so years ago, I remember some folks ranting against unions and blaming them for the high and rising cost of goods and services. While they were right in complaining about the abuses that often took place, union wages kept the cash registers ringing and the resulting taxes paid kept the streets maintained, and the street lights lit along with other public essentials too numerous to mention.

In order to have vibrant, prosperous communities, we have to create wealth, by growing it, digging or pumping it out of the ground or by manufacturing. And we need to appropriately compensate those who do the work of producing wealth. Industry makes a town.

THOMAS FINDLAY

Meadville

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