Labor Day is here, once again giving us an opportunity, as the daylight grows shorter and the temperature cools down, to reflect on the last 12 months. What we’ve seen is a continuation of the past 30 years, where workers earnings have been flat, at best, and earnings of CEOs and their corporate boards have exploded

CEOs are now making 331 times what average workers’ make and 774 times what minimum wage workers make.  This translates into significantly less money for families and communities and our nation as a whole. So what can be done and what needs to be done?

Our economy is based on how much consumers spend; the more they spend, the better it is for the economy. So again, what sense does it make when those at the very top earn all the money? They certainly don’t spend it in the local community. In fact, they even pay a lower tax rate than the secretaries that work for them, and they are just taking their money into offshore tax havens and not reinvesting in America or Connecticut.

When workers have a fair piece of the pie, Connecticut does better, our communities do better and in turn everyone does better. Local communities struggle not because of our tax policies but because of our wage policies. Let’s pretend that workers suddenly got 20 percent increase in wages. That 20 percent increase isn’t going to go to some offshore account in the Bahamas — it’s going to go to the local community whether it’s paying for a water bill or paying for clothing or paying for new tires on the family car.

This in turn generates other economic activity within the community. The owner of the tire shop can then go on vacation and the city can invest in infrastructure improvements and so on. But if we don’t stand up and say “enough is enough” to five people controlling as much wealth as 40 percent of all Americans, our state and our nation’s economies are in trouble.

For the past 30 years we have been sold this bill of goods that if you just work harder, you’ll reap the rewards. Unfortunately what has happened over the course of the last 30 years is workers in America have been more productive, taken less time off and have ended up earning less money to support themselves, their families and their communities.

Why? Because of irresponsible corporate tax policies. Because of greed. Because too many elected officials have turned a blind eye to the rights of workers. So on this Labor Day, let’s reflect on how hard we’ve all worked this last year. Let’s make a promise to ourselves that when we come to Labor Day in 2016, we will have raised our voices to say enough is enough, and that as workers we stand united and deserve our share of the American dream — because we roll up our sleeves every day and work hard for it.

Lori J. Pelletier is the Executive Secretary Treasurer of the Connecticut AFL-CIO.

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