Skip navigation
E. Why We Aren't Sharing the Wealth

Narrator: This is Science Today. Michael Hout of the University of California, Berkeley is one of a group of sociologists who say it's literally true that in the United States, the rich are richer and the poor are poorer. They say the reason is that many traditional means of sharing the wealth have been dismantled -- unions, for example.

Hout: Labor unions are a powerful way of giving workers a say in their wages, their benefits, their working conditions.

Narrator: But only 10 percent of workers in the private sector are unionized. As a result, says Hout, even though productivity and profits are up, most wages aren't.

Hout: Workers used to be able to take it out of the corporate coffers because every time a CEO would raise the salary, every time the dividend to stockholders would go up, every time the value of a company stock would go up, there would be a union man in his office across the table saying, where's our cut? That person doesn't exist any more.

Narrator: And, says Hout, isn't likely to exist in the near future.

Hout: The current set of rules that are imposed on workers who want to form a union at their workplace are far too stringent.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Steve Tokar.