Toward a “Tender Offer” Market for Labor Representation

For decades, corporate America has succeeded in delivering ever higher profits for shareholders by squeezing workers.  Whether the basic driver is labor monopsony, or a lack of worker power to capture economic profits at corporations, or increasingly ruthless business and legal practices, there appears to be a fundamental power imbalance between workers and the providers of financial capital.  The result has been rich financial returns and stratospheric stock prices for shareholders, and increased economic and personal misery for workers.

Labor unions are supposed to provide a solution to these problems.  They are designed to exercise the collective power of workers … Read more

Essential Businesses and Shareholder Value

The COVID-19 crisis vividly demonstrated that Americans rely on certain for-profit corporations to supply the essentials of everyday life. Even in a crisis situation in which the government had assumed an extraordinary role and extraordinary responsibilities, it was deemed necessary for workers handling “essential” tasks to risk infection by continuing their work at private companies. Our society’s capacity to meet basic needs in a crisis thus seems entirely dependent on the capacity of private corporations, which in turn is determined by the decisions of the people with authority at these companies.

At the same time, those people have limited incentives … Read more

Lifting Labor’s Voice: A Principled Path Toward Greater Worker Voice and Power Within Corporate Governance

Many public policymakers and economists believe that American workers’ sharply declining share of corporate profits over the past few decades has been a major cause of increasing income inequality in the United States.  To some, the explanation for this profound change in the division of the corporate pie is simple.  Since the 1980s, the power of stockholders to demand corporate policies favoring their interests has drastically increased, while the leverage of working people in the corporate power structure has drastically decreased.  As a result, stockholders have grabbed much more of the pie, and left workers with crumbs.

Leading public officials … Read more