New Report: Seven Strategies to Rebuild Worker Power for the 21st Century Global Economy

Leading Progressive Think Tank Debuts a New, Worker-Focused View of Globalization

NEW YORK, NY – In a new report, the Roosevelt Institute argues for international cooperation on new policies to help support workers in the modern global economy. The report, authored by Roosevelt Institute Fellow and political scientist Todd N. Tucker, is titled Seven Strategies to Rebuild Worker Power for the 21st Century Global Economy. The report uses historical lessons to lay out a framework for how to rebuild the power of labor and fight inequality, starting with a global labor agreement—what Tucker calls the Worker Power Agreement—modeled on the Paris Climate Accords. This recommendation comes as the Trump administration is touting a revised North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as a new deal for workers.

The report argues for governments to take on explicit targets to increase union density, as well as complementary policies that our trading partners make use of, including:

  • Privileging firms that cooperate well with unions;
  • Making labor law enforcement more favorable toward labor;
  • Extending union contracts to non-union workers;
  • Structurally incorporating unions into the policymaking process;
  • Allowing unions to manage public benefits; and
  • Making union membership the default status for workers.

In the report, Tucker asserts that globalization is not inherently bad or good, but that the global economy is driven by old rules—which currently serve the few over the many. Adopting a new set of rules would benefit not only workers in unions, but also can help to reduce inequality by reducing earnings at the top, increasing democratic participation, and limiting the ability of wealthy individuals to control national policy.

“For too long, workers could look out at international institutions and see rules and rulemakers that were dismissive of or actively hostile to their interests,” Tucker said. “If we want global governance to have domestic support, we’ve got to put workers at the center. A Worker Power Agreement is the strong brew alternative to the Trump administration’s weak tea on NAFTA.”

For years, the Roosevelt Institute has been a leading voice in calling for an overhaul of the U.S. treatment of labor and the need for these changes to bring about a more equitable, broadly prosperous economy. In 2016, the Roosevelt released Untamed: How to Check Corporate, Financial, and Monopoly Power, which outlines a policy agenda designed to rewrite the rules that shape the corporate and financial sectors and improve implementation and enforcement of existing regulations. In 2017, Tucker authored a report titled The Sustainable Equitable Trade Doctrine, which focused on a framework to make international cooperation on trade more domestically palatable. He is also the author of Judge Knot, a book focused on dispute settlement in international trade agreements.

About the Roosevelt Institute

Until the rules work for every American, they’re not working. The Roosevelt Institute asks: what does a better society look like? Armed with a bold vision for the future, we push the economic and social debate forward. We believe that those at the top hold too much power and wealth, and that our economy will be stronger when that changes. Ultimately, we want our work to move the country toward a new economic and political system: one built by many for the good of all.

It takes all of us to rewrite the rules. From emerging leaders to Nobel laureate economists, we’ve built a network of thousands. At Roosevelt, we make influencers more thoughtful and thinkers more influential. We also celebrate—and are inspired by—those whose work embodies the values of both Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and carries their vision forward today.