Bernie’s Right: 3 Billionaires Really Do Have More Wealth Than Half of America

Chuck Collins Director, Program on Inequality and the Common Good , Institute for Policy Studies

The wealthiest 3 billionaires in the U.S. – Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett — now have as much wealth as the bottom half of the U.S. population combined.

Those were the first words spoken at last week’s 2020 Democratic Debate, citing a wealth inequality study by the Institute for Policy Studies.

In fact, Sen. Bernie Sanders mentioned the study, Billionaire Bonanza, several times during the debate.

Fact checkers at The New York Timesthe Washington Post and CNN verified Sen. Sanders’ claims.

These extreme levels of wealth inequality are possible, in part, because the bottom fifth of U.S. households are underwater, with zero or negative net worth. And the next fifth has so few assets to fall back on that they live in fear of destitution.

“We’re developing into a plutocracy,” said former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.

Some more powerful IPS statistics from our latest edition of Billionaire Bonanza: One troubling indicator that we are drifting toward a society governed by the wealthy is the expanding fortunes of multi-generational wealth dynasties.

The three wealthiest U.S. families are the Walton’s of Walmart, the Mars candy family, and the Koch brothers, heirs to the country’s second largest private company, the energy conglomerate Koch Industries. These are all enterprises built by the grandparents and parents of today’s wealthy heirs and heiresses.

These three families own a combined fortune of $348.7 billion, which is four million times the median wealth of a U.S. family.

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Reposted from Inequality.org
Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Members of Local 7798 achieve major goal with workplace violence policy

From the USW

Workers at Copper Country Mental Health Services in Houghton, Mich., obtained wage increases and pension improvements in their contract ratified earlier this year, but the benefit Local 7798 members were most proud of bargaining was language regarding workplace violence.

The contract committed the employer to appoint a committee, including two members of the local, to draft a workplace violence policy. Work quickly began on the policy, and just last week, the committee drafted and released its first clinical guideline focusing on responding to consumer aggression toward staff.

“We are so excited to have this go into effect,” said Unit Chair Rachelle Rodriguez of Local 7798. “This was a direct result of our last negotiating session.”

The guideline includes the definition of aggression and an outline of procedures, all of which will be reviewed yearly. And though this is just a first step in reducing the incident rates and harm of workplace violence in their workplace, it still is a big one for the local, and it wouldn’t have been possible without a collective bargaining agreement.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work