December 13, 2011; Source: The Atlantic | NPQ cares deeply about the issue of “voice,” as in the ability to exercise our citizenship wherever we are—so we care about this story.

So, all of a sudden someone cares how much “voice” workers feel they have? James Warren, writing for the Atlantic thinks he already knows the answer to that question, but he says that the Department of Labor is aiming to poll workers “to gauge the current level of workers’ voice in the workplace and the factors affecting voice.” Voice here is defined as a “worker’s ability to access information on their rights in the workplace, their understanding of those rights, and their ability to exercise those rights without fear of recrimination.”

The timing of the announcement, says Warren, is interesting, coming in the wake of Obama’s speech in Osawatomie, Kansas. He suggests also polling those workers without jobs about just how much voice they feel they have, and writes “A week after President Obama derided growing income inequality, and underscored the need to enlarge a declining middle class, his administration is quietly proposing to find out just how voice-less American workers really feel.”

NPQ does not wish to make light of the issue of workers’ voice, and if this study—dubbed “groundbreaking” by the Department of Labor—helps to ensure that voice is heard, then great! But we think that in the meantime it shouldn’t stop us from lifting ours up in an attempt to address the growing income inequality in this country.—Ruth McCambridge