We are Zoomers and we want the PRO Act
Like so many other recent Gen Z graduates who are trying to enter the workforce, become financially independent, and grow our families, we see the promise. In addition to this, you need to know more about it.“The American dream ”is drifting further and further out of reach.
The economy our generation enters today is defined by growing inequalities and stagnant wages. Debilitating student debt and the astronomically high cost of living in metropolitan areas have reduced our chances of achieving the same economic prosperity as previous generations. Our parents had jobs that did not require a college degree and allowed them to buy homes at a fraction of the current price. Now that dream is more like a fantasy for our cohort of young workers.
Today, Generation Y and Generation Z collectively form 40 percent of the US workforce but has only 5.9 percent of household wealth, while baby boomers account for only 25 percent of the workforce but owns 53 % of household net worth. When baby boomers were millennials, they had more than double the wealth of millennials today. Our generations will not have the same stability as our parents and grandparents unless systematic changes are made to reinvigorate a key tool in the workplace that has helped generations before us enjoy greater security. economic: unions.
Congress is currently developing a solution that facilitates the organization and collective bargaining of workers through unions. In March, the House passed the Protection of the Right to Organize Act (PRO), a bill that would allow concert workers to organize, legalize sympathy strikes, and ban various anti-union tactics that maintain underpaid and overworked workers. By expanding access to unionization, the PRO law strengthens the possibilities for workers to improve their wages and working conditions. It’s a long-term policy needed for Millennials and Gen Z to address endemic economic inequalities.
Union membership was much more common in America, with unions helping workers negotiate fair wages and high benefits. But, as the number of union members rose from 27 percent in 1979 at ten.3 percent in 2019, income inequality has skyrocketed, with the richest 1% increasing their income by 160 percent during this period, compared to just one 26 percentage increase for the bottom 90 percent. While the average CEO salary has increased by 940 percent since 1978, workers’ wages have only increased 12 percent on the past 40 years. Our baby boomer parents and grandparents entered the workforce when unions had high levels of membership, empowering them to hold employers accountable for decent wages, safer conditions and solid benefits.
Today, meanwhile, the integration of Millennials and Zoomer into the labor market is characterized by low union membership and stagnant wages, making it much more difficult to purchase an education, l buying a house and starting a family. Even as Millennials and Zoomers become America’s most educated generations, research shows that the real wages of high school graduates are 5.5 percent less than 2000 and the salaries of young university graduates are 2.5 percent less. These trends increase the stakes for young workers in the fight to pass the PRO law.
The PRO law would help compensate for weak labor laws that have historically stifled workers’ organization. Full 48 percent of non-union workers say they would join a union, but less than 11 percent of workers are unionized because many employers use aggressive tactics to crush any organizing effort. Employers can legally prohibit union organizers from speaking to workers in the workplace and during union elections, near 90 percent of employers require workers to attend meetings with captive audiences where they convey anti-union messages. The PRO law would ban such tactics, making it much easier for workers to organize.
But what difference would unions make? Examples of union success are all around us. Striking teachers’ unions in West Virginia won a 5 percentage increase 2018, and Los Angeles teachers won a 6 percentage increase 2019. During the pandemic, when large grocery companies reaped record profits while refusing to pay their workers’ risk premium, UFCW residents led the fight across California to spend $5 risk premium mandates for essential workers in cities like South San Francisco.
Now is the time for Millennials and Zoomers to demand that the Senate follow the House’s lead and pass the PRO Law. Make calls, send emails, and organize your community. No senator from either party can claim to care about young or working Americans if they do not support this bill. A version of the PRO law would be included in the $3.5 trillion human infrastructure packages that Democrats plan to push through budget reconciliation, which means it could be closer than ever to becoming law. We can help make this a reality.
The fight to get the PRO Act passed isn’t just about democratizing the workplace, it’s our best chance to build a just economy and rekindle the American Dream – for our generation and all that will follow.