Even Blue-Chip Companies Fail. Here's How to Save Their Workers, and Towns, When They Do.

Connect with the author

University of Washington

The new year has not been happy for former Sears employees. As the company fights for its life in bankruptcy court, laid-off employees of the 126-year-old retailer recently saw their severance pay stopped by the court at the same time that it approved $25 million in bonuses for the company’s executives.

The contrast is unconscionable but not unique. The history of American business is defined by corporate failure: a long series of panics, recessions, slumps, bankruptcies and depressions. Yet while corporate leaders generally escape the financial repercussions of their own business mistakes, workers and the communities that depend on a company for their livelihoods do not. Workers must therefore prepare for economic failure. They can do so by organizing collectively.