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America Must Work to Preserve Middle Class
Written by David Bonior   

david_bonior_small While working on John Edwards' presidential campaign, I met working people across the country struggling just to make ends meet. For some time now, the financial hardships experienced by men and women in the heartland have been ignored or even overlooked by politicians and pundits alike in Washington. With last Friday's news that the nation's unemployment rate jumped to 5.5 percent in May, the highest monthly rise in two decades, this is no longer the case. Those inside the beltway are finally starting to come to terms and focus on this serious economic crisis.

Our economy is headed on the wrong track and taking good, hard-working people with it. Unemployment is rising through the roof, inflation and energy prices are skyrocketing, and a tragic number of Americans are losing their homes to foreclosure due to the housing and credit crisis. Now more than ever before, we need to continue our efforts to preserve America's middle class. Workers need political solutions that work for them, and they need political leaders who have strength and courage to get them through these tough times.

At American Rights at Work, we will continue to grow public support for workers' rights, so the freedom for all men and women to form unions for a better life is restored, guaranteed, and promoted. More than half of U.S. workers—60 million—say they would join a union right now if they could. It's no secret why. Workers in unions earn 28 percent higher wages on average, and are 62 percent more likely to have employer-covered health coverage. As a critical component of addressing this economic squeeze, we must reform our obsolete labor law system which too often prevents workers from joining a union if they so choose.

We must continue to work with members on both sides of the aisle in finding ways to bolster the rights and opportunities of America's workers. Our children must know we are fighting for their future or they will lose all hope that the American dream is possible. Leveling the playing field for workers is a critical first step for the next generation to be a part of a thriving and robust middle class that is fundamental to both democracy and the American economy.

David Bonior is a former Congressman and Democratic Whip and is the Chair of American Rights at Work.

Cross-posted to The Hill Blog.