April 15, 2022

“The Future We Need”: Labor Movement Leaders Examine the Power of Workers, Organizing for a Better Democracy, in New Book


Contact: Alexis Stanley (507) 581-4302

“The Future We Need” positions the struggle to build collective bargaining power as a central element in the effort to build a healthy democracy

Washington, D.C (April 15, 2022) – A new book out today by co-authors Erica Smiley and Sarita Gupta provides a fresh, new perspective around collective bargaining, organizing and how workers can have agency and exercise democracy in all parts of life. “The Future We Need: Organizing for A Better Democracy in the Twenty-First Century,” published by Cornell University Press, offers new approaches to how we build worker power in a world in which the economy has dramatically changed over the last century—evolving collective bargaining as we know it to match the needs of modern people, not only to change their wages and working conditions, but to be able to govern over more aspects of their lives.

“Our book features stories of people who are driving a new movement that uses organized bargaining power to establish true economic democracy, in the workplace and elsewhere — in our communities, our schools, our courthouses and more. Applying the principles of collective bargaining to all these arenas will give us a voice and equal power to assert and secure our rights against the wishes of global capital to oppress and exploit us,” said co-authors, Erica Smiley and Sarita Gupta.

Erica Smiley, executive director of Jobs With Justice and Sarita Gupta, vice president of U.S. Programs at the Ford Foundation, position collective bargaining as a critical pillar in the struggle for democracy, and not just in the current framework we know today. The book weaves stories of working people that illustrate the necessity of centralizing the fight against white supremacy and gender discrimination.

“The Future We Need” comes at a time when workers all across the country are fighting to have their voices heard and challenging the existing levers of power. The book focuses on  transforming “collective bargaining” from the margins as a “thing that unions do” to something everyone seeks in a healthy democracy and features a foreword written by DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA).

“This book brings attention to the current problems of our democracy. When we center working people’s identity beyond workers, it allows us to not only build power, but to actually create a path and a foundation for perhaps, for the first time, a real multiracial democracy in the U.S.” said co-authors, Sarita Gupta and Erica Smiley.

The book was edited by Karl Weber, who has worked with such authors as former president Jimmy Carter and edited such works as “Waiting for Superman” and “Food, Inc.,” and Gwenn Seemel is the artist behind the worker portraits. “The Future We Need” can be purchased at, thefutureweneed.com


You must be logged in to post a comment.