Stephen Greenhouse was the labor reporter for the New York Times for 19 years.

In this interview with the California-based Capital & Main, Greenhouse reviews the history of the labor movement, the role it played in building a middle class, and its decline. He goes on to describe strong portents of a revival of power for working people.

Greenhouse has written a new book about the labor movement and why it matters. The book is titled Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present and Future of American Labor.

He said,

One of the reasons I wrote this book is that there’s a phenomenon that far too few Americans understand. Worker power in the United States, not just union power, but worker power overall, has fallen to its lowest level, certainly since World War II and probably since the Great Depression.

That has hurt tens of millions of Americans because it’s a big contributor to wage stagnation. Consumers don’t have enough money to spend. That’s depressed the economy a bit.

Another unfortunate result of this declining worker power is income inequality. One study I looked at showed that income inequality has increased faster in America since 1995 than in any of three dozen industrial nations. One reason for that is that unions and worker power in the U.S. have grown so weak.

A third bad result of the decline of worker power is that corporations have undue domination of our nation’s politics and policymaking.