The Importance of Labor Rights Activism in the Face of Growing Economic Inequality

Some possible research topics that are of interest to me are activist movements related to Climate Change, Immigration reform, racial equality (with a focus on the Black Lives Matter Protests), Social Media activism (the effects of social media on activism) and Labor Rights. In my opinion, all of these topics are of immense importance and are some of the most pressing issues facing modern society. As a result of the salience of the issues aforementioned, numerous activist movements both big and small have developed over the years in an attempt to address such issues and catalyze reform and change in some way. While the movements I have listed have all at some point been brought at some degree to the national spotlight and have been the subject of considerable research and national dialogue, I believe there are different angles and manners in which I can profoundly examine and analyze the aforementioned issues and their corresponding activist movements in American society.

 

One topic that immediately is of predominant interest to me is Labor rights activism. Poverty and economic inequality are some of the most severe issues underlying US society. The prevalent exploitation of workers, ubiquity of economic inequalities and lack of adequate and equal economic opportunity for citizens of the US are disturbing phenomenons, which reinforce persisting and even worsen binding social and economic inequalities in the US. As a result of the stark economic inequalities present in the US, as the top 1 and 10 percent grow wealthier at increasing rates, it is of invaluable importance to address such a crucial issue. One such way to address the realities of economic inequalities is by advocating for expanding and improving workers’ rights. According to eminent labor rights activist Phaedra Ellis Lamkins, “the labor movement has been the most successful anti-poverty programs in American history.”[1] I would specifically look at labor movements in areas of concentrated wealth throughout the US, such as in Silicon Valley and the extended Bay Area. As such regions in the US advance and grow wealthier and wealthier, much of the accumulating wealth has been unequally distributed to the most affluent classes in society. As a result, many blue-collar workers and groups in the workforce have been left behind in the face of economic progress in such areas as the Silicon Valley. In these specific areas of increasing economic development and concentration, gentrification, rising rents, and rising costs for consumer goods have all transpired in the face of stagnant wages for the average blue collar worker. Such consequences of concentrated economic progress as in the Silicon Valley have left the average blue collar worker earning unsustainable wages in which minimum wages are no longer feasible living wages. In the face of exorbitant and dramatically increasing costs of living, it is imperative to address the needs of huge sectors of the workforce, which have not been able to reap the rewards of the rapid economic advancement of their regions. Increasingly, large sectors of the work force in these areas will no longer we able to afford and adequately sustain themselves in these areas. Furthermore, in order to inhibit the worsening of economic inequalities in regions of the US and to counter the negative effects of such inequalities, labor movements are of the immense importance for ensuring that all workers go acknowledged and adequately rewarded.

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-dreier/activists-changing-america_b_4209480.html

 

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One thought on “The Importance of Labor Rights Activism in the Face of Growing Economic Inequality”

  1. Jess, this is a fascinating topic and one that is often overlooked when considering the growth of Silicon Valley and the gentrification of communities across the Bay Area. I think it would also be interesting to consider the impact of economic inequality in young students and families, as this cycle of impoverishment is only exacerbated as time goes on — why are poor students less likely to succeed in schools and escape the cycle?

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