Unions RenewedBuilding Power in an Age of Finance
Unions Renewed
Building Power in an Age of Finance

Unions face a once in a generation opportunity for renewal. Decades of decline have been compounded by a global elite who increasingly generate profit from financial engineering in ways that side-step labour and undermine the power of organised workers.


However, as this economic system begins to falter, there are signs of a renewed union movement emerging. Debt-laden firms – from supermarkets and nursery chains to outsourcing giants – are collapsing, and workers are organising to determine what comes next. Unionised bank cashiers are refusing to push predatory loans, teachers are striking against the exploitative housing market, and manufacturing workers are pooling redundancy pay to buy-out plants and become worker owners.


Alice Martin and Annie Quick argue that these are seeds of union renewal. To be effective in an age of finance, the union movement must set its ambitions beyond narrow wage-bargaining, and towards the financial systems that have infiltrated workplaces and impoverished communities. By doing so, they can play a critical role in ushering in a new, democratic economy.


No-one committed to economic justice can afford to miss this urgent, highly original book and its radical vision for unions.

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  • November 2020
  • 140 pages
  • 138 x 216 mm / 5 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $59.95
  • 9781509539116
  • Paperback $19.95
  • 9781509539123
  • Open eBook $9.99
  • 9781509539130
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: How financialization undermines the power of workers
Chapter 2: Understanding and rebuilding union power
Chapter 3: Bargaining with finance
Chapter 4: Owning the future
Conclusion: A way forward
About the Author

Alice Martin is a labour specialist for a shareholder advisory firm and former Head of Work and Pay at the New Economics Foundation.

Annie Quick is an organiser for the IWGB Union and former Head of Inequality at the New Economics Foundation.

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‘Workers are more precarious than ever as we face the global threats of climate emergency, a creeping far right, increasing inequality, and eroded workers’ rights. Unions Renewed is a must-read for all in the labour movement who believe that winning working-class power extends beyond government, and must be built from organizing in our communities and workplaces, democratizing our economy and, necessarily, our trade unions. Taking inspiration from a new generation of grassroots unions and movements, the labour movement must radically reimagine itself to take on twenty-first-century capitalism.’
Nadia Whittome, care worker and Labour MP for Nottingham East

‘The financialization of the economy has concentrated wealth and power in the hands of the super-rich, devastating workers’ living standards, weakening unions and threatening democracy itself. In one of the best simple explanations of financialization I have seen, Unions Renewed dissects how private equity corporations profit while bankrupting companies and destroying jobs. It calls on unions to develop new strategies to rebuild workers’ power based on how the economy has been reorganized.’
Stephen Lerner, US labour organizer, founder of the Justice for Janitors campaign

Unions Renewed offers a critique of labour’s strategic status quo grounded in a clear and powerful analysis of the shifting economic ground beneath us. The authors think both historically and globally – and their insights just keep coming. This book will make a real difference.’
Sam Pizzigati, labour journalist and associate fellow, Institute for Policy Studies, Washington, DC

‘The profound social and workforce changes around the dynamics of class, race and gender pose significant challenges, and opportunities, to the trade union movement. To act on this, radical solutions are required which move beyond traditional modes of worker organization. Insights in this important new book shine a light on this changing context and help to chart new pathways to the restoration of trade union legitimacy and power.’
Dr Ian Manborde, Equalities and Diversity Organizer, Equity trade union; former programme coordinator of the MA in International Labour and Trade Union Studies (ILTUS) at Ruskin College, Oxford; founding member of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (UK)

Unions Renewed is a clarion call for a stronger, fiercer, better labour movement and it couldn't come at a more important time. While too much of the conversation about the working class is mired in nostalgic dreams of a past that never really was, Martin and Quick have explained why labour must understand the economy that we currently have in order to take power and shape the future. Read it, and then share it with your coworkers.’
Sarah Jaffe, author, Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt and Work Won't Love You Back

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