11 The Union Movement’s Hail Mary Pass

In the decades after World War II, the union movement was one of the main forces boosting the incomes and security of working people. In fact, there would probably be no middle class in the United States without it.1 But the number of union members peaked in 1979, and unions have been fighting losing battles since then against the increasing power of globalized corporations.

Some people are trying something different: unionized worker-owned cooperatives.

“So many times we’re on the defensive, we’re reacting,” Ellen Vera, a staff organizer with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), told me. Vera was on loan from the UFCW, working with a diverse group of people in Cincinnati to jump-start a new effort ...

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