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Series 4 Finale of the Unions 21 Podcast

Double-header weekend brings series 4 to a close

The fourth series of the Unions21 podcast comes to a thundering close this weekend.

As the POTUS pays us a visit, we talk with Damon Silvers, Director of Policy and Special Counsel at the AFL-CIO, America’s TUC. In a 2013 article, the Washington Post asked “Can Damon Silvers save organised labor?

That question is even more important today than 6 years ago. There is a deliberately hostile environment against organised labour in the US. In the so-called Right to Work states, collective bargaining has been systematically undermined. The Janus ruling, featured in one of our previous podcasts, was designed to strike a fatal blow to union finances. Private sector union density remains stubbornly low.

We found Damon in optimistic mood, highlighting strike activity and community organising as positive signs in a difficult climate. He also makes the case for organised labour being a guardian of democracy itself. Along the way we also tip our hats to the work of author Edward Bellamy and film-maker Robert Zemeckis.

What’s the connection between Bellamy and Zemeckis and unions in the 21st century? And is that Washington Post article true? Have a listen and decide for yourself.

And then on 3 June, we welcome Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England to the podcast. Andy spoke with us in his capacity as the chair of the Industrial Strategy Council – charged with holding the government to account over it’s delivery (or not) of the strategy’s objectives.

We made clear our surprise and concern at the apparent absence of any trade union input into the strategy when it was published. Can Andy say anything to reassure us? Will the Council be watch dog or a lap dog? And would increasing wages be a route to higher productivity? It was good to have such a senior figure willing to not only spend time with us, but also to be clear and definite on a range of issues.

And that, as they say, is a wrap. We’d like to thank everyone who has made this series our best and most listened to so far – our guests of course, but especially our listeners. We’ve roamed the world to discover, dissect and debate key developments in the trade union world – a checklist of this season’s episodes is below. Subscribe via the podcast platform of your choice so you don’t miss a thing!

There will be some special episodes over the summer, and we’ll be back for series 5 in September.

You can access all Unions21 podcasts here and listen below to our new episodes.

Please download, stream, share, like, subscribe, review, but above all, enjoy.

The unions21 Podcast – Series 4


Release date



19 Mar

Kiwi Lessons in Innovation


29 Mar

How to win union recognition – the PDAU story


11 Apr

What makes NHS employers tick – with Danny Mortimer


18 Apr

Industrial Strategy and Collective Voice, with Chi Onwurha


29 Apr

What future for ACAS, with Brendan Barber


6 May

The future of work – taming the robots


13 May

Enforcing labour standards with Sir David Metcalf


20 May

Women, work and barrier to industrial prosperity, with Jess Phillips


24 May

UCU General Secretary - elect, Dr Jo Grady


31 May

US unions and the Future of Work, with Damon Silvers


3 June

Can the Industrial Strategy deliver, with Andy Haldane