Joshua B. Freeman is a professor of History at Queens College (CUNY). He is the author of In Transit, Who Built America?, Working-Class New York. He lives in New York City.
“Certainly Obama is much more supportive of the unions than George W. Bush was. But this trend towards a greater inequality is global, and has been going on for forty years now. New York City, despite the fact that has a long social welfare tradition, has among the greatest inequalities in the entire country. Probably not because there are so many poor people – but because there are so many rich people. And although the NYC union movement is the strongest of any city in the country, it’s also losing power and membership, especially in the private sector. And this because of the change of the kind of job here, the decline of manufactory, but also the growth of .. those trends are continuing. Obama appointed some people in the National labour’s relations that were very progressive. But that doesn’t translate very much into social change.”