“This is the first generation that’s lived under globalization their entire life. First they saw their parents’ standard of living destroyed. They saw wages taken away, pensions taken away, health care taken away, in many cases houses taken away. They’re seeing the inability to go to college. But then they’re told, ‘Do all of this, play by the rules, and everything will be great for you.’ So they do it, and go out into an economy when they work for three or four people in a week, or in a day sometimes. They’re not getting by. They gotta go back home just to survive. So they’re starting to equate democracy with income inequality, lower wages, insecurity, and poverty. Now, what happens when a majority of the population feels that way? If we don’t change the rules, we definitely will find out. And that’s what the last election was about: People screaming to change the rules, and grabbing onto somebody, no matter what else they are, [if they think they will] change the rules.”
The most powerful labor leader in America is facing declining membership and the most hostile presidential administration in memory. He says that he’s an “optimist.” But should he be?