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Season 4, Episode 222

Policymakers have tools to improve working-class wages

policy matters Ohio


Guest Name:

Michael Shields

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Economist with Policy Matters Ohio, Michael Shields, joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss his recent report on earning wage increases for the working class. Shields discussed the way’s policymakers influence wages and one of the main tools at their disposal for helping the working class improve wages.

Working people have been doing their part for a long time, and each year they get better and more efficient. As productivity increased, wages lagged behind. For example, from 1979 to 2021, Ohio saw productivity increase by 76 percent but only a 4 percent increase in wages. When this happens, it shows that the job market is not delivering in the way the system should provide for workers, Shields said.

Policymakers have a big influence on how workers get paid. If contracts were formed and developed by unions, workers could earn back some of the decision-making power from policymakers, as seen by the UAW and Teamsters. There are lots of ways policymakers can help workers and not just stick to the status quo, Shields said.

One of the main tools at policymaker's disposal would be to pass a higher minimum wage for their state. Currently, half the value of the minimum wage has been lost due to policymakers ignoring the wages. If state lawmakers would bump the minimum wage to 15 dollars per hour, it would help improve and even out the wage situation for workers.

To hear more from Shields and Policy Matters Ohio play the show above.

America’s Work Force is the only daily labor podcast in the US and has been on the air since 1993, supplying listeners with useful, relevant input into their daily lives through fact-finding features, in-depth interviews, informative news segments and practical consumer reports. America’s Work Force is committed to providing an accessible venue in which America's workers and their families can hear discussion on important, relevant topics such as employment, healthcare, legislative action, labor-management relations, corporate practices, finances, local and national politics, consumer reports and labor issues.

America’s Work Force Union Podcast is brought to you in part by our sponsors: AFL-CIO, American Federation of Government Employees, American Federation of Musicians Local 4, American Alliance for Manufacturing, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, Communication Workers of America, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 50, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Crafts, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 6, Ironworkers Great Lakes District Council, The Labor Citizen newspaper, Laborers International Union of The National Labor Office of Blue Cross and Blue Shield, North America, North Coast Area Labor Federation, Ohio Federation of Teachers, Survey and Ballot Systems, United Labor Agency, United Steelworkers.


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