Waiting for the north to rise: Revisiting Barber and Rifkin after a generation of union financial activism in the U.s
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Business Ethics 52 (1):109-123 (2004)
A generation ago, Barber and Rifkin [The North Will Rise Again: Pensions, Politics and Power in 1980s (Beacon Press, Boston)] envisioned a new strategy for American Labor that would make extensive use of the capital in multi-employer and public pension plans. They argued that organized labor could influence how these funds were invested in order use this capital as both a weapon in struggles with recalcitrant management and as a tool to generate new union jobs. A number of union officials took this advice seriously, to make labor-connected individuals and organizations were among the most determined and successful investor activists of the 1990s. It is, however, hard to find evidence that this activism has effectively met the goals of organized labor, leading to the ironic conclusion that the innovations of labor's investor activist will do more to assist the investment community than the American labor movement.
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