Social Solutions to Poverty:
America's Struggle to Build a Just Society
A book by Scott Myers-Lipton


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Living Wage




People have also begun to organize at the local level against the inequitable economy and the diminished minimum wage. Unions, faith communities, and community-based organizations have joined together to build a new movement for a living wage.

    According to Robert Pollin, a professor of economics and an advocate for the living wage, the basic principle of the movement is that people who work should not have to raise their families in poverty. Consequently, the initial goal of the living-wage movement has been to pass municipal ordinances that mandate that companies have service contracts with the city to pay a living wage to their workers. This issue has taken on new importance as cities, in order to cut costs, have privatized services.


In order to fight the unjust economy, unions have also attempted to change the overall rules governing labor in the United States. Clearly, the labor movement has been weakened over the past forty years because of mechanization and globalization, which have led to a significant drop in numbers of unionized workers from 35 percent of the overall workforce in the 1950s to 13 percent in 2004. Disagreement over how to reverse this drop in union membership has led two major unions—the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (which together represent three million workers)—to break off from the main labor federation, the

AFL-CIO. These dissident unions, calling themselves the “Change to Win

Coalition,” plan to focus their resources on increasing union membership

through recruitment and organizing rather than on political lobbying and

central office staff.

Myers-Lipton, p.

(Excerpted from “Social Solutions to Poverty” © Paradigm Publishers 2006)



The LET JUSTICE ROLL Living Wage Campaign

The State of Working America 2006/2007: Wages


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