June 12, 2014
By Neal Tepel
Washington, DC – In a passionate speech to the Economic Policy Institute on June 4, CWA President Larry Cohen talked about policies to close the income gap between the rich and everyone else in America. In his introduction to Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, at the EPI's conference, President Cohen had many pointed and important remarks regarding income inequality. He mentioned the need for workers to band together in the fight against stagnating wages and income inequality.
President Cohen said that the mass movement of the 1930s built workers' rights in the U.S. and the ability for workers to negotiate with employers. This model could be achieved in countries struggling to achieve democracy."When you don't have collective bargaining rights, there's no ability to deal with the tendency that they (companies) are not going to raise wages if they don't have to," he stated. Firms will take jobs to the lowest wages they can – unless there's a policy to stop them, said Cohen.
CWA President Cohen mentioned the Supreme Court rulings that allowed an unprecedented amount of money to be unleashed in political campaigns from corporations and the rich. "It's at this point that totally deregulated election spending" comes into the equation to help drive down wages. Politicians are influenced by big donors and firms that lobby to keep pay low and workers down. Orchestrated campaigns to destroy working people should not be allowed in America, added Cohen.
Wage growth for most workers has been stagnant for the past three-and-a-half decades," said Cohen. "Raising wages for the majority of Americans who rely on their paychecks to make ends meet is essential to ameliorating income inequality, boosting living standards for the middle class, reducing poverty, and sustaining economic growth."