Karen Nussbaum

Karen Nussbaum is executive director of the AFL-CIO community affiliate Working America.

Recent Articles

Labor at a Crossroads: Time to Experiment

New organizing will be propelled by committed activists, but will have to be sustained by huge numbers of members and supporters.

Working America
This article is published as part of " American Labor at a Crossroads: New Thinking, New Organizing, New Strategies ," a conference presented on January 15, co-sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute, The Sidney Hillman Foundation, and The American Prospect . (View agenda here .) Find our Labor at a Crossroads series here . I love the breadth and gusto of the new labor organizing, which includes plenty of innovation based in old labor organizing as well. This mash-up of practical experiences will help produce breakthrough tactics and strategies. There is also a question of purpose—is our aim to improve working conditions, or is it to build a more powerful working class? These are related, clearly, but suggest different strategies and structures. Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, is a laboratory for change. Here are three areas at the top of our list for exploration in this realm. Changing minds Pollsters call this “the frame”—but really, it’s ideology. Working...

New Organizations for Workers

This piece is part of the Prospect' s series on progressives' strategy over the next 40 years. To read the introduction, click here . Corporate domination of the media, of politics, and of the workplace has thrown American society out of whack. Labor laws no longer protect workers’ interests. We need to return to the purpose of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The point of the act, according to its preamble, is to remedy the inequality of bargaining power between employees and employers because it’s bad for the economy. The act’s intent is every bit as germane now as it was when it was written, but the regulations are outmoded and often damaging to workers’ interests. The economy and the workforce have changed since the NLRA was enacted in 1935. For workers to regain bargaining power, we need to embrace three fundamental tenets. First, a boss is a boss. Advocating for workers today is a Whac-A-Mole process in which the employers deny they’re the employers. They subcontract out...