Episode

4/25 The Double Edged Sword That Is Union Pension Muscle w/ Sandy Jacoby

April 25, 2022

It’s Sam’s triumphant return to the show! He and Emma host Sandy Jacoby, Research Professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, to discuss his recent book Labor in the Age of Finance: Pensions, Politics, and Corporations from Deindustrialization to Dodd-Frank, on the contradictions ingrained in the relationship between organizing and shareholders. Professor Jacoby begins by situating the first era of union financialization at the end of the 19th Century with the birth of labor banks as a way to bolster worker funds, until the Great Depression flipped nearly every single one belly up, burning the relationship between the two sectors for much of the next fifty years over the New Deal era. The start of the neoliberal era in the 70s forced unions to look for ways to boost their power once again, turning to union pension funds, which offered both direct and indirect control over money for their workers, with a particular focus on the public State and Local funds such as CalPERS, which used their billions to bolster myriad labor fights in their state. After briefly touching on the different structures of the public pension funds, Professor Jacoby, Emma, and Sam dive into how this led to these funds putting in place shareholder policies, trading financial support for policies that favor shareholders’ profits over workers, particularly pushing stock options and stock-based pay for executives, seeing a complete shift to marketization, including swapping pensions for 401ks, and commitments to labor squeezes to bolster share prices. Next, Professor Jacoby dives into how this financialization tied the roles of these pensions, shareholders, and CEOs together, fighting for the same short term returns despite their inverse relationship with the health of corporations, labor, and community, and how this structure forced union objections to be made in alignment with shareholder profits. They wrap up the interview by exploring what separating unions’ organizing interests from their pension interests could look like, the role that de-financializing corporations plays, and where the world of labor is at in this conversation. Sam also unpacks his personal pandemic experience these past two weeks, before he and Emma unpack the continued escalation of Russian violence in Ukraine, Kevin McCarthy scrambling to get back in Trump’s good graces, and how the labor movement got to the incredible moment it finds itself in.

And in the Fun Half: Sam celebrates his return as he and Emma take calls from Kowalski and John from San Antonio, giving their typical rundowns on the worlds of agriculture and progressive campaigns, respectively, Nancy Mace and Marjorie Taylor Greene show off the right’s ability to never acknowledge any potential shortcomings, and Trump campaigns for JD Vance and his ability to clamor back to Trump’s feet. The Georgia Governor’s debate sees political elite and political elite battle over who’s LESS elite, Steven Crowder and Megyn Kelly discuss the horrors of watching trans people beat women (at sports) in public, and Brennan calls in to explore unionizing his workplace. Plus, your calls and IMs!

Check out Sandy’s book here: https://sanfordjacoby.com/

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Past Episodes

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Sam hosts Khiara M. Bridges, professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, to discuss the recent overturning of Roe V. Wade and the repeal of concealed carry laws in New York State by the Supreme Court. First Sam reviews the standards set by this 6-3 conservative Supreme Court, ...
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