CEOs from the financial institutions who received TARP funds testify before the House Financial Services Committee Feb. 11, 2009. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)
It's not union members..
After years of declining numbers, union employees make up about 12% of the workforce, but their total pay (14.8 million union employees with a $47,000 median salary) amounts to less than 12 percent of wages, as reported by the Census Department.
Unions are sometimes accused of excess, when in fact they keep employees from falling into substandard wage conditions. According to the State of Working America, the union wage premium exists, but it's a modest 13.6%.
Unions also provide a degree of stability for a shrinking middle class. Retirement funding, however, is actually much less than perceived by union critics. The Pew Center notes that the latest available annual pension contribution by the 50 states amounted to just under $60 billion, which is about 1% of wages as reported by the Census Department.
Finally, unions promote equal opportunity. A recent study at Harvard and the University of Washington concluded that "the decline of organized labor explains a fifth to a third of the growth in inequality."