President, Center for Economic Organizing, Washington
Best-known as co-author of "The North Will Rise Again: Pensions, Politics and Power in the 1980s," Randy Barber was the first to envision the potential power unions could exert through their pension funds.
In their 1978 book, Mr. Barber and Jeremy Rifkin contended that whoever controlled the investment of pension assets could determine the future of the U.S. economy. They urged labor and political leaders in the North to use union and public employee pension assets to bolster their declining economies. The strategy was a precursor to the corporate governance movement and the rise of shareholder activism. Union leaders used the book as a guide to organizing capital in ways that would reinvest in communities and economies that would be more worker-friendly.
Mr. Barber was also an early advocate of what has become known as economically targeted investing. He has stayed connected to the pension arena through his work with the Center for Economic Organizing, a Washington think tank and economic research organization. His co-author, Mr. Rifkin, now is the president of Foundation on Economic Trends, Washington.
"It's the seminal book for labor involvement in the issue," said Richard Ferlauto, director, pension and investment policy, American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, Washington. "It was the book that got me started. It showed the impact of capital on industrialization and how pension funds could influence the movement of jobs."