Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is editor-at-large of The American Prospect. His email is hmeyerson@prospect.org.

Recent Articles

The Vapid Defense of Share Buybacks

AP Photo/Richard Drew, File
This past Sunday, with the share buybacks of American corporations at an all-time high, The Washington Post business section ran a major piece documenting buybacks’ rise and giving the arguments for and against the practice. And the arguments for, I’m compelled to say, look mighty flimsy. Those arguments have never been more important, since the Republican tax cut supercharged the irresistible force (greed) that compels CEOs to authorize buybacks—as their pay is commonly linked to the share values that buybacks inflate. And “supercharged” may be understating it: “In February alone,” the Post reported, “U.S. corporations announced a record $150.7 billion in buybacks.” The problem with buybacks—the problem their defenders are obliged to address—is that they simply funnel corporate profits into shareholders' pockets rather than into investment. The defenders’ argument is that once the shareholder gets a hold of that...

A Tale of Two Labor Movements

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Last Thursday, the more than 500 delegates to the convention of the California Labor Federation—the state’s AFL-CIO—voted to endorse liberal Democratic State Senator Kevin de León’s insurgent and uphill bid to unseat longtime incumbent Senator Dianne Feinstein, whom the federation had supported in all her previous U.S. Senate elections, dating back to 1992. Coming from a pillar of the state’s Democratic establishment, the endorsement—which required a two-thirds vote of the delegates—was a stunning development. The following day, the leaders of New York’s progressive unions announced that they were severing ties with the state’s Working Families Party—an organization that many of those unions had founded and supported, and that has backed, with notable success, a range of pro-labor progressive candidates in Democratic primaries over the past two decades. The announcements came on the eve of the party’s Saturday...

What the Teacher Strikes Mean

(AP Photo/Adam Beam)
trickle-downers_35.jpg Around seven years ago, I had a standard wisecrack to explain the standing of workers in the world’s two dominant economies: “China has strikes but no unions; America has unions but no strikes.” Seven years later, it’s clear we’re becoming more like China every day. The remarkable upsurge of teachers in Republic-run, largely non-union states that has swept through West Virginia and is now sweeping through Oklahoma and Kentucky, and is poised to descend on Arizona, has returned the mass strike to the United States after decades of relegation to the history books. In each of these states, the teachers unions have something between limited and no legal rights to bargain collectively, and, correspondingly, represent just a hard core of members whose commitment to their union is more a matter of belief than of anticipated reward. And yet, able to mobilize even in non-union terrains through the use of social media, and outraged at their...

What Now for Unions?

This article appears in the Spring 2018 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . For conservatives, the much-anticipated Supreme Court decision in the Janus v. AFSCME case may be coming eight years too late. If, as expected, the five Republican justices on the Court rule for the plaintiff, which would end public employee unions’ ability to collect dues from all the workers they represent, they will significantly weaken the nation’s largest unions, among them the two teachers unions, as well as AFSCME and SEIU. These are also among the most significant organizations in Democrats’ voter-mobilization programs and, more generally, in supporting progressive groups and causes. Even more fundamentally, the right plainly hopes such a ruling will also drive the final nail into the coffin of the American labor movement. While a pro- Janus ruling could strengthen the Republicans electorally, when it comes to killing unions, the right is simply too late. The...

National Security Agencies Have Spoken: Private Equity Ownership Imperils America

(AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
By the normal standards of U.S. national security, the government’s ruling on Tuesday to delay and potentially derail the acquisition of high-tech company Qualcomm by the Singaporean company Broadcom was startlingly smart and gobsmackingly wonderful. It was smart because it extended its definition of U.S. security interests to maintaining our advantage in the development of the most advanced forms of technology, in this case, the 5G communications systems that will be critical to both driverless cars and network security in coming decades. The government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS for short) wrote that it feared that if Qualcomm, the nation’s leading developer of 5G technology, were purchased by Broadcom, its research would suffer and a Chinese high-tech company, Huawei, would likely surge past it to become the global leader in security technology. In the past, CFIUS has blocked several Huawei attempts to purchase U.S. tech...

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