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American Compass Releases Conservative Economic Agenda for 118th Congress

Today, American Compass is releasing New Direction: Conservative Principles & Policies for the 118th Congress, an agenda for economic renewal, focused on the interests of worker, their families and communities, and the nation.

Policy Brief: Worker-Run Benefits

Permit workers to administer their own employee benefits through organizations they control

Policy in Brief: Worker-Run Benefits

On this episode of Policy in Brief, Oren Cass and Chris Griswold discuss a proposal to allow workers to administer their own employee benefits through organizations they control.

Skills Gaps Will Force Companies to Do Right by Their Compatriots

Employers who profited from cheap foreign labour cannot now gripe at having to train local workers, writes American Compass executive director Oren Cass.

A Nation of Boys at Risk

After decades of intensive effort and investment to create an equitable education system, not least for girls and women, the nation finds itself with a peculiar predicament: It is boys who are falling behind furthest and fastest.

Where Have All the Young Men Gone?

The question of who would pursue non-college pathways, if they were offered, is one that has bedeviled education reform debates for decades.

Policy in Brief: The Workforce Training Grant

On the inaugural episode of Policy in Brief, American Compass executive director Oren Cass is joined by policy director Chris Griswold to discuss the Workforce Training Grant, a proposal to create a meaningful alternative pathway to college.

Policy Brief: Workforce Training Grant

Congress should create a Workforce Training Grant—a $10,000-per-year grant to employers for each trainee engaged in on-the-job training.

Servants No Longer

American Compass policy director Chris Griswold explores the relationship between worker power and the roots of civic friendship.

From Amazon to Starbucks, Workers Caught Between Big Business & Big Labor Need Support

Emily Jashinsky features Wells King’s analysis of the Amazon union vote on Staten Island in a discussion of the difficulties facing workers organizing today.

Oren Cass and Jacobin’s Paul Prescod Debate Labor Policy

Krystal and Saagar are joined by American Compass’s Oren Cass  and Jacobin writer Paul Prescod for a debate on the GOP’s new legislation that would revise the National Labor Relations Act and put workers on some corporate boards.

The Right Is Starting to Represent Workers Outside of Unions

American Compass policy director Chris Griswold discusses recent pro-labor policy developments on the right-of-center and opportunities for further labor reform.

Can the GOP Become the Party of the Working Class?

Batya Ungar-Sargon discusses the recent GOP bill that would give workers the opportunity to elect a representative to serve on their corporate boards as part of a voluntary employee involvement organization.

Coming Apart in the Hoosier State

Farah Stockman’s new book, American Made: What Happens to People When Work Disappears, documents the closure and relocation of an Indianapolis Rexnord bearing plant to Mexico and Texas. Stockman, a New York Times reporter, was assigned to cover the Rexnord plant after then-candidate Trump tweeted about its pending closure and the scheduled relocation of a nearby Carrier plant to Mexico in 2016.

Why National Conservatism Needs Worker Power

At the second National Conservatism conference, Oren Cass discusses the importance of worker power to the future of conservatism.

Oren Cass: Here’s What Workers REALLY Want From Unions

American Compass executive director explains what workers want—and are not getting—from organized labor in the U.S. today.

The Work-Ethic Welfare State

Lind’s essay marks the launch of a new series, The Compass Point, that will present in-depth commentary from leading scholars and writers on topics vital to the future of conservatism. Expect them most Fridays over the next couple of months.

Critics Corner with Vinnie Vernuccio

In this episode, Vinnie Vernuccio joins Oren in the Critics Corner. Vinnie is the president of the Institute for the American Worker and a senior fellow at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

A Better Bargain: Worker Solidarity and Mutual Support

Straightforward federal reforms could enable state and local governments to partner with new labor organizations in administer portable benefits and sector-wide training.

The Labor Movement Is ‘Woking’ Itself to Death

American Compass research director Wells King explores the failures of the modern American labor movement and what workers really want from unions.

Woking 9 to 5

Not What They Bargained For, the American Compass survey of worker attitudes, highlights the ways that the labor movement’s focus on progressive politics has undermined its own popularity and alienated the lower and working classes. Workers similarly disdain “woke” employers.

The American Dream Isn’t Dead, It’s Just Misunderstood

In order to fulfill your dreams, you must aspire to be what you desire. That is the American Dream, to me. And I think some people don’t understand what fulfilling that American Dream can take.

A Better Bargain: Worker Power in the Labor Market

This paper explains the advantages of broad-based bargaining, the key parameters that policymakers must establish, and the gradual process of experimentation by which it could gain prevalence in the American economy.

Can Antitrust Be Pro-Worker?

In 1776, Adam Smith made perhaps the most famous statement linking monopoly power to labor. “Masters,” he wrote in The Wealth of Nations, “are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform, combination, not to raise the wages of labor above their actual rate.” Today, however, rather than taking Smith’s maxim as a warning, most lawyers and judges have come to treat it as a guidebook.

New Survey Finds Modern American Workers Want Unions To Stop Playing Politics

American Compass executive director Oren Cass joins The Federalist Radio Hour to discuss the Better Bargain Survey results, what workers want from organized labor, and working-class perspectives on politics.

A Better Bargain: Worker Voice and Representation

This paper proposes two complementary policies that together offer a genuinely better bargain for American workers: formal recognition of “works councils” and a mechanism by which workers could elect representation to their corporation’s board.

A Better Bargain

Greater Voice, Power, and Support for Workers

New Survey Finds Union Political Activism the #1 Obstacle to U.S. Labor Movement

PRESS RELEASE—Labor policy reforms should be focused on strengthening labor-management cooperation and delivering concrete economic benefits

Not What They Bargained For: A Survey of American Workers

The Better Bargain Survey explores workers’ attitudes about their jobs and organized labor; their appetite for greater support, voice, and power in the workplace; and their reactions to political messages and policy reforms

American Labour Unions Should Stop Playing Politics

American Compass’s Oren Cass discusses the state of American organized labor and what the working class wants from their unions.

Unemployment and the Labors of Love

As I was reading sociologist Sarah Damaske’s new book, The Tolls of Uncertainty: How Privilege and the Guilt Gap Shape Unemployment in America, I was struck by a realization: though I’ve spent a good deal of the past 11 years interviewing working-class young adults in Ohio, I have met relatively few who have received unemployment insurance (UI).

When Work Doesn’t Seem to Pay

If you talk to anyone in poverty, you’ll probably hear a story like mine. We aren’t afraid to work hard, we just want to know there’s a reward at the end of the journey.

Why Do Libertarians Support User Fees but Not a Family Wage?

Wages are to workers’ output what user fees are to highways and toll bridges.

The ‘Uber Economy’ Needs Guardrails

If you are a freelancer like a lawyer or a doctor with a private practice, your experience is very different from a freelancer or contractor accessing work through online labor platforms like Upwork, Clickworker, Uber, or Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.

Frictionless Exchange: Author Discussion

Wingham Rowan (Modern Markets for All) and Neil Chilson (Charles Koch Institute) discuss the advent of frictionless exchange with Wells King (American Compass).

Grand Old Party and the Working Class with Leader McCarthy

A conversation with Leader McCarthy about what it will take to build a GOP that is better attuned to the concerns of working class Americans and where he sees the party going in the coming years.

What American Workers Really Want Instead of a Union at Amazon

American Compass executive director Oren Cass discusses the failed unionization drive at Amazon’s Bessemer, AL, warehouse and what it says about what kind of support and representation workers actually want.

Amazon Union Election Wakes Up Washington, Even Some Republicans

American Compass executive director Oren Cass is featured in a Power Up discussion of the Amazon union drive and conservative support for labor organizing.

How Essential Are the ‘Email Job’ Caste?

Those HR and other middle management types make “busy work” for themselves, though it is darkly ironic that the “busyness” in which they are engaged often results in making my work more difficult and time-consuming.

Fulfillment: A Conversation on Amazon and Regional Inequality with Alec MacGillis

A conversation with Alec MacGillis about his book, Fulfillment, the Amazon behemoth, and the growth of regional inequality in the U.S.

The Amazon Union Drive and the Changing Politics of Labor

In a discussion of the changing politics of organized labor, Benjamin Wallace-Wells cites American Compass’s work on the issue and its promise on the right-of-center.

What’s Wrong With The Unemployment Rate?

Executive director Oren Cass joins CNBC to discuss the unemployment rate.

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How to Raise the Minimum Wage, If You Must

Let’s peg the federal minimum wage to state median wages.

Why Raising the Minimum Wage Will Grow the Economy, Not Kill Jobs

Raising the minimum wage would not increase unemployment; it would increase living standards for low-income workers—and, critically, it would boost overall U.S. productivity growth.

It’s neither the Investor Class nor the Middle Class: It’s the Producer Class, Stupid!

If one believes that ideas matter, then the person who has surely done the most harm to humanity is Karl Marx, as his writings led to Communism, with its repression and tens of millions of deaths (as well the rise of Nazi Germany).

History As It Happens: The GameStop Revolution

American Compass executive director Oren Cass joins the History As It Happens podcast to discuss GameStop, Wall Street, and populism.

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Joe Biden Should Be Doing More That Really Helps Workers

American Compass executive director Oren Cass discusses President Biden’s first days in office and why he should focus on policies that help working Americans.

When Does a Labor Economist Ask for a Raise?

Little persuasion happens in 280-character snippets, but people willing to explain their thinking and answer each other’s questions can still accomplish a lot by clarifying their views and identifying the underlying sources of disagreement. So I was delighted yesterday when the Cato Institute’s Alex Nowrasteh took the time to walk me through his understanding of how wages are set in labor markets.

Republican Party Platforms On Collective Bargaining, 1920-2020

In 2020 Donald Trump won 40 percent of voters who live in a household with at least one member in a labor union, slightly fewer than the 42 percent of union households who voted for him in 2016.  With the exception of Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden won fewer union households than any recent Democratic presidential candidate. 

Worker Power or Loose Borders: You Can Only Pick One

American Compass’s Oren Cass discusses the tension between worker power and loose immigration policy.

Oren Cass on the Conservative Case for Labor Unions

American Compass’s Oren Cass joins the Quillette podcast to discuss the conservative future for the labor movement.

Worker Power, Loose Borders: Pick One

A funny thing happened in the days after we published “What Happened: The Trump Presidency in Review.” The collection’s emphasis on the success of economic policies that pushed the labor market toward full employment attracted substantial interest from proponents of looser fiscal and monetary policy. But that “strange new respect” came with the mandatory caveat that we were still wrong to suggest increased immigration enforcement and a slower inflow of new workers might be part of the same package.

CEOs: If You Really Believe in Stakeholder Capitalism, Now Is Your Chance To Make It Real

American Compass’s work on corporate responsibility and labor reforms is highlighted as a key example of the growth a bipartisan consensus on the obligations of businesses.

Salary Bands and the Truth about Wages

How are wages set in the United States?

Worker’s Party—or Pro-Worker Power Shift?

In the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump’s share of the white vote shrank while his share of the nonwhite vote increased.

A Reformed Labor Movement Could Advance Conservative Values and Priorities

American Compass’s Oren Cass responds to Michael Watson’s rejection of collective bargaining, arguing that organized labor can advance conservative principles.

Escape from the Working Class

Discussions about policies to help the multiracial American working class majority as a whole typically take a detour into the completely unrelated subject of how to help individuals escape from the working class.

Tales of Bureaucratic Incompetence and the Sins of the Left and Right

After working as a manager at Chick-Fil-A for four years, Elizabeth Nowowiejski, a married mother of two living in Toledo, began a new job as a patient coordinator at a Read more…

CQ Future: Unions

American Compass’s Oren Cass talks with Jim Saksa about how unions should be reinvented and not abandoned by conservatives.

New Deal Social Security
No, the New Deal Wasn’t Racist

Save for the Civil Rights Act, no single federal policy or program has done more to advance racial equity than Social Security.

Let Workers Enjoy the Fruits of their Productivity Gains

Amber and David Lapp have written movingly about the current plight of America’s workers (here and here). The commodification of labor that they describe is not new by any means. Over the last 40 years, inequality has mounted, and workers in turn have seen their quality of life eroded, as their income share of GDP has collapsed.

Workers Are People, Not Widgets: An Epilogue

Earlier this month my husband David and I wrote about Alex, a worker at an Ohio-based unionized factory, and the way the union saved his job after conflict with a supervisor.

Is the Conservative Case for Organized Labor an Oxymoron?

American Compass’s Oren Cass discusses a conservative future for organized labor with Hamilton Nolan.

Give Workers Power to Boost Productivity, Reduce Inequality

It’s an approach that echoes themes of the recent American Compass statement: a well-functioning system of organized labor should both “render[] much bureaucratic oversight superfluous” and reinforce the benefits of tight labor markets “through economic agency and self-reliance, rather than retreat to dependence on redistribution.”

Michael Lind: Why Conservatives Should Care About Unions

American Compass contributing writer Michael Lind discusses his essay on remodeling labor law from American Compass’s A Seat at the Table collection.

Conservatives Should Embrace Labor Unions

Brad Littlejohn interviews American Compass’s Oren Cass about why conservatives should be interested in the future of America’s labor movement.

“Pro-Labor” Conservatives Aren’t Going Away Anytime Soon

Socialists express their concern that a conservative pitch to the working class will succeed, “especially when Democrats continue to abandon unions and the working class.”

Ending with a Starting Point

Would sectoral bargaining provide a better framework for American labor law?

Can the GOP Empower the Workers of Today and Tomorrow?

The Republican Study Committee’s American Worker Task Force has just released a new report, “Reclaiming the American Dream: Proposals to Empower the Workers of Today and Tomorrow”.  As such it Read more…

Economic and Political Bargaining Both Depend on Trust

Would sectoral bargaining provide a better framework for American labor law?

Why Conservatives Should Embrace Labor Unions to Reduce Economic Inequality

American Compass’s Wells King connects dysfunctional labor laws, declining union-participation, and partisan interests to the rise of economic inequality.

Labor Law Must Include All Workers

Inclusion is a necessary first step toward fixing America’s broken labor law system.

Toward a More Cooperative Union

Workers and employers should have the freedom to collaborate and design new forms of worker organizations.

Refocusing Labor Policy to Unleash the American Worker

American workers are the backbone of this country. In the wake of the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to remove barriers burdening the American worker. On Capitol Hill, the Republican Study Committee’s American Worker Task Force has proposed bold new solutions that would empower our nation’s workers to face today’s challenges as well as tomorrow’s.

The Long and Winding Road to Reform

Would sectoral bargaining provide a better framework for American labor law?

Worker Organizations Must Enable Worker Power

Allowing for alternative forms of worker organization makes sense if and only if they contribute to the growth of full-fledged collective bargaining unions.

Seeking Choice, Not a “Perfect” System

My underlying disagreement comes not from an appeal to the popular will but, rather, a difference of values: I’d rather have an economy that allows for more creativity, choice, and wealth creation even if it results in less equality.

Reviving the Conservative Heart of Organized Labor

Cardus’s Brian Dijkema advocates for a new conservative home for organized labor in this adaptation from American Compass’s “A Seat at the Table” series.

Workers of the World

Few Americans realize how our system of organized labor is an outlier among Western nations. In some European countries, unions attract a greater share of workers and maintain less adversarial relationships with business. A better understanding of these alternative models can guide American policymakers as they address our labor policy challenges.

America Needs a Conservative Labor Movement

American Compass’s Oren Cass argues that a strong, reformed labor movement has unique potential to advance conservative priorities.

With Labor Power Will Come Labor Responsibility

Would sectoral bargaining provide a better framework for American labor law?

A Q&A With Oren Cass

American Compass’s Oren Cass talks with WorkRise’s Elisabeth Jacobs about the current economic crisis, the ways society has come to devalue certain kinds of labor, and the need for alternative pathways to the workforce.

Q&A with Freelancers Union Founder Sara Horowitz

Labor law has failed to evolve alongside a changing labor market. Some labor leaders have been moving ahead anyway.

Would Sectoral Bargaining Provide a Better Framework for American Labor Law?

Labor leader David Rolf and American Compass’s Oren Cass discuss the potential for sectoral bargaining in America.

Labor for the Future

This is one of those half-baked blog posts that are the point of a blog but increasingly rare; after all, in the digital era everything seems to just get slicker and more centralized. There are only three sites to post to and you have to be on, and casual-Friday professional, you know?, for your brand. If you want to spitball you can just tweet. Anyway.

Sectoral Bargaining’s Promise and Peril

Would sectoral bargaining provide a better framework for American labor law?

The Wagner Act’s Original Sin

Would sectoral bargaining provide a better framework for American labor law?

The Once and Future American Labor Law

American labor law has become worse than useless: a lower share of the private-sector labor force is organized today than before the National Labor Relations Act was passed in 1935. The time has come for an entirely new model.

The Conservative Case for Unions & the Battle for the Soul of the Republican Party

American Compass’s Oren Cass joins The Realignment to discuss how the GOP can reconcile with organized labor and how the left and right should rethink their approach to economics.

A Conservative Future for the Labor Movement?

Robert Verbruggen comments on the labor reforms suggested in American Compass’s “Conservatives Should Ensure Workers a Seat at the Table” statement.

Workers Are People, Not Widgets

Meet Alex and Lance, two blue-collar workers in southwestern Ohio. One had union representation as he sought a foothold in the labor market; the other did not. Their lives remind us that there is still power in a union.

The Unlikeliest of Unions: Conservatives Look to Make Allies in the Labour Movement

American Compass’s work on the labor movement and a broader restoration of conservative economics receives coverage north of the border.

Labor’s Conservative Heart

The trade union is a quintessentially Tocquevillian institution and the one that brought down Soviet communism. Conservatives must rescue the American labor movement from Big Labor’s partisanship and restore its community-building purpose.

Conservatives for Labor

The NYT’s Morning Newsletter features the release of American Compass’s joint statement on conservatives ensuring workers a seat at the table.

The Conservative Case for Organized Labor

Eric Levitz interviews American Compass’s Oren Cass about his vision for a pro-worker conservatism.

Labor Market, Labor Code—Or Labor Bazaar?

There are only two ways to establish the price of something, including a day’s wages for a worker—the market and the state. Impersonal market forces, beyond the control of either employers or employees, can be allowed to determine how much a worker is paid. If we do not want to allow a free labor market to set wages, then the only alternative is for the government to directly fix prices—in this case, the prices that employers are to pay workers for particular jobs—by means of a compulsory, rigid and universal government labor code.

The Quest for Community on Labor Day

In its latest public statement, American Compass affirms the enduring importance of organized labor and the need for conservatives to have a stake in its future. It challenges a right-of-center accustomed to dismiss unions to instead reconsider their role in our common life as well as the deeper costs of their absence.

Statement on Labor From Prominent Conservatives: “Strong Worker Representation Can Make America Stronger”

PRESS RELEASE—American Compass’s September collection explores the conservative case for organized labor.

New Think Tank Looks to Counter Establishment’s Influence in Policy-Making Circles

American Compass’s Oren Cass joins Steve Hilton to announce a new project on a conservative future for the American labor movement.

Conservatives Should Ensure Workers a Seat at the Table

Statement on a conservative future for the American labor movement.

A Seat at the Table

A Conservative Future for the American Labor Movement

What’s the Best Way To Help Low-Income Workers? Automate Low-Income Jobs.

As we celebrate Labor Day, reducing unemployment and getting the COVID-impacted economy back to some semblance of normality is clearly the top economic task. But when that is done the economy will still face a critical labor market problem: too many workers earning too little. A recent Brookings study found that 44 percent of American adults workers make very little, with median annual earnings of just $18,000.

The RNC’s Massive Missed Opportunity To Really Fight For Workers

American Compass’s Oren Cass gives his take on the Republican National Convention and highlights what he calls a “missed opportunity” to fight for workers.

The Gig Economy is Paving the Road to Serfdom

The tech industry buzzword “gig” has distracted society from important questions about the gig economy that are surprisingly traditional: whether a business has employees or contractors, and how it can avoid payroll taxes and legal liability. Countless Silicon Valley business models have been built under the guise of gigs. Uber and Lyft are two of the best-known cases, which is ironic considering that for all of their high-tech pretensions, at the core of both are taxi and food delivery services.

Uber’s New Labor Law: Placation Without Representation

The “gig” may soon be up for Uber. A San Francisco judge’s ruling that ride-sharing services must treat their drivers as employees has both Uber and Lyft threatening to discontinue service in California, seemingly conceding that their money-losing business model relies not only on the subsidy of endless investor capital but also the legal arbitrage of ignoring the labor laws followed by others. But earlier this week, Uber CEO Dara Khorowshahi published a New York Times op-ed conceding the point that Uber treats drivers poorly and arguing for a different path forward.

Corporate Actual Responsibility: A Conversation with Senator Josh Hawley

Senator Josh Hawley talks with American Compass executive director Oren Cass about the empty platitudes and hypocrisy of “woke capital” and why conservatives must work to prioritize the needs of workers and families in their economic policy agenda.

Are Labor Unions Predatory Monopolies?

At Law and Liberty, I took part in a symposium debating the libertarian scholar Richard Epstein’s comparison of labor unions to predatory monopolies, which he described as the “classical liberal” view. 

Another Way 2020 Feels Like 1968

Earlier this month I visited the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, located at the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. often stayed and where on April 4, 1968 he was assassinated while standing on the outside balcony, chatting with colleagues and getting ready for dinner.

Another Kind of Redistribution: The Case for a Job Guarantee Program

Recent posts from Sam Hammond , Ed Dolan, and Oren Cass, have opened a very thoughtful debate on the role of redistribution in a future economic agenda. They rightly observe the corrosive effects of mindlessly expanding re­distributive policies without addressing many of the flaws in our current system that give rise to the need for such redistribution in the first place.

How We Do the Work Is As Important As Where We Do It

Repatriating supply chains to home shores has become an increasingly fashionable topic in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of the rationale is to ensure that adequate redundancy and resiliency are built into our economies, even at the cost of “just in time” inventory accumulation practices (which have prioritized short term profitability at a cost of the kinds of supply shocks we are experiencing today).

Rethinking Welfare Capitalism

Since the neoliberal era began in the 1970s, many public policy thinkers have assumed that America’s employment-based benefit system of welfare capitalism is doomed to extinction by the growth in freelance or gig workers. To replace employer benefits, the left tends to support welfare statism and the right tends to support welfare individualism, in the form of portable, individualized tax credits or savings accounts.

The Homeless Society

Analysts and commentators talk about today’s “precariate.” The term plays on the Marxist notion of the proletariat, recasting it to describe gig workers, college grads whose income is swallowed by student loan debt, and wage-earners who can’t stay ahead of heath costs, childcare costs, car repair bills, and credit card debt.

Should Congress Extend the $600 Federal Unemployment Benefit?

In March as Ohio began to shut down, Emily—a thirtysomething mom who asked that I not use her real name—worried about her family, her neighbors, and especially the elderly. She posted on her town’s Facebook page offering to grocery shop for those unable to go to the store, or to share a meal with anyone who might be hungry, saying that she’d feed them whatever she could out of her own kitchen.

We Will NOT Run Out of Jobs

This seems like a strange headline given that the economy has recently shed almost 40 million jobs. But at some point with the development of a vaccine or an effective treatment, the economy will come back to normal.

To Reboot America, Reboot the Power of Hard-Working Americans

Before anyone had heard the term “COVID-19,” working America was already in a crisis.

From Protecting Essential Workers to Upgrading Essential Industries

The COVID-19 panic has drawn long-overdue attention to the economic and health and financial challenges facing many “essential workers” including nurses and health aides, nursing home aides, slaughterhouse workers, truckers, grocery store clerks and other retail workers, warehouse workers, and others upon whom the daily functioning of our continental society depends.

How the Consumerist Consensus Led America Astray, and How to Recover

Oren Cass discusses his book, The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the Renewal of Work in America

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