A Country That Works: Getting America Back on Track

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Simon and Schuster, May 20, 2008 - History - 212 pages
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Andy Stern, one of the most visionary leaders in America today, has fought relentlessly to ensure that Americans' hard work is rewarded in today's hypercompetitive, globalized world. As the newsmaking president of the fastest-growing, most dynamic union in America, he has led the charge for modernizing the "house of labor" -- taking unions out of the past and into the twenty-first century. He has spearheaded the campaign against the "Wal-Marting" of jobs and has innovated transformative solutions to the daunting problems facing Americans, from job insecurity to runaway health care costs. In this powerful critique and call-to-arms, he offers a revelatory dissection of the gathering threats to our standard of living -- threats that our politicians have failed utterly to address -- and he puts forth a bold, unassailable plan for making vital reforms.

In his eye-opening diagnosis that makes the urgency of the threats vividly clear, Stern shows that Americans are contending with the most disruptive economic upheaval in the world economy since the Industrial Revolution. Yet, in the face of this daunting challenge, the American system simply isn't working well enough for most of us. Stern powerfully portrays how with the pace of globalization relentlessly quickening, the competitive pressures on our jobs and quality of life are heating up even more, especially as housing, health care, and oil prices skyrocket. While CEO salaries soar and business and the wealthy are handed plentiful tax shelters, the incomes of both white-collar and blue-collar workers stagnate, leaving most Americans struggling to pay off ever-escalating debt, instead of saving for retirement. The plain fact is that our system is out of whack, serving the interests of the top sliver of the most wealthy while putting the squeeze on the rest of us.

Meanwhile, our politicians irresponsibly sidestep the crucial solutions that we so desperately need in order to make sure Americans can move into the twenty-first century with their futures secure. As Stern so persuasively shows, it is time for bold thinking and creative solutions to overhaul a health care system in crisis; correct a tax system rigged in favor of business and the wealthy; revamp our inadequate retirement system; and make truly innovative improvements in education. He presents a set of course-correction reforms so compelling, simple, and achievable that readers will find themselves enraged that they haven't yet been enacted. Americans have a right to expect our government to work for us. Andy Stern shows how we can get things back on track to make sure it does.
 

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A country that works: getting America back on track

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The misleading title of this maverick, clearly argued account from Service Employees International Union (SEIU) president Stern elides the bulk of its contents: he bookends his story with the problem ... Read full review

Contents

Globalization Is for Real
23
Change Has Got to Come
37
A Story of Transformation
55
Taking It to the Next Level
77
The Strength of One
99
Pushing Past Partisan Roadblocks
115
Dont Let Them Fool You
133
A Plan for a Country That Works
147
Conclusion
181
Acknowledgments
199
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About the author (2008)

Andy Stern is president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the largest and fastest-growing union in the United States and Canada. In July 2005, to more effectively represent workers' interests in the twenty-first century, he led his union, along with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and several others, out of the AFLCIO to start the Change to Win federation, the first new labor movement federation in fifty years. Stern is the leader of a number of successful, trailblazing campaigns to value and reward the work of America's workers. He was a key strategist in the creation of Wal-Mart Watch, a campaign to push for better work conditions and health care benefits for the company's employees. Stern also helped to found America Votes, a coalition of many large-membership organizations whose goal is to increase voter participation. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, and he lives in Washington, D.C.

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