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  ·   By Lee Saunders, The Hill

Supreme Court case threatens freedom of American workers

We are living in a second Gilded Age in America, where the richest 1 percent now hold 40 percent of the nation’s wealth, more than the entire bottom 90 percent combined. Chief executive pay is about 271 times that of the average worker, compared to 20 times in 1965.

The one mitigating force is labor unions. In the decades following World War II, the middle class enjoyed unprecedented growth and prosperity because more people were able to come together in strong unions. They were able to build power in numbers and negotiate with their employers for a fair return on their work.

But since the middle of the 20th century, union density has shrunk, and with it middle-class wealth, thanks largely to a sustained attack on the freedoms of working people by the political right and their corporate funders. These attacks are now reaching a fever pitch, even as unions enjoy their highest approval ratings at 61 percent, according to the latest polling from Gallup, in nearly 15 years.

On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Janus v. the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), a case engineered by anti-worker special interests to threaten the ability of public service workers, such as teachers, firefighters and corrections officers, to stand together in a union.

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