Another sign of the times for the American worker–American Airlines contract negotiations with the union representing ground workers has come to a standstill. American Airlines has not been able to come to an agreement with the union representing over 12,000 bag handlers, instructors, simulator technicians, and storage clerks this past week. Because of several days of failed contract negotiations the union has requested that a federal mediator step into the contract talks.

As job losses rise and the amount of unemployed workers searching for jobs increases, many companies are feeling less pressure to bow to the demands of unionized workers. Many “ordinary” workers aren’t too concerned about this phenomenon; but this dynamic could spell trouble for those Americans who have experienced job losses and even for those who are fully employed. Unions help negotiate decent pay for labor, even unskilled workers and are important to insuring that wages remain high for all workers. Now, that the economy is shaky and many Americans fear job losses, companies may attempt to suppress or even decrease wages, tightening the already limited budget of the American worker. Keep an eye on union contract negotiations; they are an indicator of how much leverage the non-union worker will have as job losses continue to increase and the economy cycles through this recession.