Wall Street’s War on Workers

Chapter 1: Wall Street Doesn’t Want You to Get a Raise

Wall Street has tried to convince us that when the stock market does well, the economy does well and vice versa. But the growing success gap between Wall Street and Main Street calls that into question. Companies cannot be profitable without their workers, but it is clear that workers are not sharing in the profits they create for their employers. In fact, workers’ share of income has fallen over the last four decades, and wage inequality has risen, especially at the largest companies.

That’s right, Bank of America defines gains as making cuts to workers’ pay and hours.

Wall Street’s attacks on workers’ wages have not been limited to Chipotle. When American Airlines announced pay raises for its pilots and flight attendants earlier this year, Wall Street punished the company’s stock price by 5 percent. A Citi Bank analyst actually wrote: “This is frustrating. Labor is being paid first again. Shareholders get leftovers.” Never mind that the “labor” in question simply pushed to get paid the same as their counterparts at United and Delta.

Wall Street was not always fixated on short-term profits at large companies. Nor was it always focused on expanding wealth for the wealthiest. In the past, banks invested in businesses, and, therefore, workers on Main Street. According to recent analysis, however, only 15 percent of Wall Street funds are invested in businesses, down from a majority of funds several decades ago. This change in business model has been a successful one for the financial sector. Wall Street now makes up seven percent of the economy, nearly double what it was in 1980. And it accounts for 25 percent of all corporate profits, even though it creates only four percent of U.S. jobs.

    Senator Sherrod Brown

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    Official Medium page for U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. Follow our ongoing series, “Wall Street’s War on Workers.”

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