As the country celebrates Labor Day, it’s imperative that we not only stop to honor the past contributions of American workers to the prosperity of our nation, and remember our future is at stake in November, the most important election of our lifetime, but to acknowledge our union brothers and sisters working on the holiday to aid in the post-Hurricane Isaac recovery in Louisiana.
In New Orleans, Parks and Parkway employees are working to pick up storm debris to make our communities safe and clean again. Department of Public Works in Baton Rouge workers are doing the same.
We salute you on Labor Day.
Now, more than ever, rebuilding the middle class in Louisiana is at stake.
In a study released last month, the Pew Research Center reaffirmed what working people in this country have known for years: the middle class is shrinking and so is middle class share of income. According to the study, during the last decade, middle-class income declined for the first time since the end of World War II; meanwhile, the percentage of Americans defined as middle class fell from 61 to 51 percent since 1970. However, the share of income that went to upper income people grew substantially over the same period. The study follows a similar examination of middle-class decline by the Yale University Institution for Social and Policy Studies, which found a growing disconnect between economic output and wages.
The American middle class has been in decline for decades. Recent studies are a stark reminder that framing the decision we face this November in terms of the last four years alone is short-sited and ignores a long history of policies detrimental to working people in this country.
Despite a growing body of evidence that the middle class is in jeopardy, we’ve watched as right-wing lawmakers have blocked legislation that would put the middle class on firm footing once again. Republicans have wasted time debating intrusive women’s healthcare legislation and the DREAM Act, legislation that would have provided a pathway citizenship for undocumented immigrant youth. When Democrats in Congress introduced the American Jobs Act, and other measures to stimulate the economy, Republicans filibustered legislation for the purpose of political theater.
We know that, in the spirit of the day created to honor the American workers, it is time to get everyone back to work and create prosperity for many, not just the few.
Happy Labor Day 2012.