I am a teacher, and I do not use the supplied textbook. The text is perverted history in which many interest groups, including the government, have warped history to further their agenda.
Public sector unions are a major interest group that has shaped history through the creation of mandatory teaching standards. Often they will whine that the text it too anti-union. Here is an example: http://shankerblog.org/?p=3633
This being said, there is this belief that unions created the middle class are to thank for all of our prosperity, and the fall of the union is the end of the middle class.
In reality, mass production brought down costs and prices. Purchasing power increased. Ford’s employees saw some of the greatest wage increases, shorter work days and two day weekend largely in his attempt to avoid unionization.
You’re right, the wealth of the common man is relative. By toady’s standards, poorer, compared to the farmers and miners of the late 19th century, richer. Today our standard of comfortable living is high, think of our monthly bills and staple luxuries:
Phone (with internet)
Cottages, lake house, hunting cabins
and most of all… online learning classrooms : )
It is difficult to secure the finances of the modern middle class lifestyle.