- Dean Baker discusses the strong relationship between union organization and the elimination of poverty:
A simple regression shows that a 10 percentage point increase in the percentage of workers covered by a union contract is associated with a 0.7 percentage point drop in the poverty rate. (This result is significant at a 1.0 percent level.) This means that countries like Sweden, Belgium, and France, where the coverage rate is close to 90 percent, can be expected to have poverty rates that are more than 5.0 percentages points lower than in the United States, where the coverage rate is less than 15 percent. In the case of the United States this would imply a reduction in the poverty rate of almost a third from current levels.- Ann Cavoukian, Ron Diebert, Andrew Clement and Nathalie Des Rosiers point out that Canadians need to be able to count on genuine oversight of the federal government security apparatus in order to have any confidence that our privacy isn't being violated.
There are many other important differences that could be important in reducing poverty in these countries. However in almost every case, unions were a major force in advancing the various policies that are associated with lower poverty. It would have been difficult to envision a scenario in which these policies would have been enacted (without) pressure from unions.
The same holds true with measures that have reduced poverty in the United States. The creation and expansion of Social Security, which has lowered the poverty rate among seniors to the same level as the adult population as a whole, would have been impossible without pressure from unions. Similarly programs that help young children, such as Head Start or promote education such as Pell Grants and subsidized student loans, passed with strong support from organized labor. Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP have always been strongly supported by unions and the Affordable Care Act would not have passed without a big push from the labor movement.
- CBC reports that Newfoundland's PCs seem to have thoroughly absorbed the exclusionary strategy of their federal cousins - having threatened to slash funding from schools and other local projects if people identified with other parties weren't prevented from participating in public events.
- Finally, Paul Adams reminds us that most of what's being (rightly) criticized about the PQ's Charter of Values would have fit comfortably into major parties' platforms over the past few years. And in recognizing that the path toward social inclusion has been far less smooth than it seems in retrospect, it's well worth remembering who's led the way - and who's had to be dragged kicking and screaming.