Why Unions Matter

 by Leslie Tolf

Leslie Tolf Headshot

Leslie Tolf

As parents we tell our children that the key to success and prosperity lies in a good education. We feel we have to. Why? Thirty-five years of globalization and technological revolution have resulted in a rapid decline of the manufacturing and blue-collar jobs that were once the backbone of our economy. These were union jobs that offered good wages, superb health benefits and the security of a pension at retirement. But those jobs are vanishing. With that in mind, we needed our kids to get a college degree so they could find skilled work that paid well.

The state of organized labor in America is changing. And it’s not looking good.Now, millions of un- and underemployed graduates have discovered that a college degree doesn’t guarantee a good job. Coupled with the extraordinary spike in college tuition, the flagging economy that welcomed Millennials into the workforce means that not only are our young people graduating with far fewer opportunities for high paying jobs, but they are coming out of college with mountains of debt. The average college loan requires a $290-per-month payback, a figure that lands between seven to 10 percent of a 20 or 30 something’s average monthly salary. While the value of education for the sake of learning should never be under-estimated, the reality is that education simply isn’t the answer to shared prosperity that many once thought it was.

Read the rest at Huffington Post.

Leslie Tolf is the current President of Union Privilege, which provides credit cards and financial services to union members. She’s had an extensive career in both the public and private sectors. Her current project — Union Kid Power — is a graphic novel that seeks to teach power of activism to the next generation.

 

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