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‘Food Companies Didn’t Get the Memo’—Steven Greenhouse on the Unionization Wave

The ‘father of modern labor journalism’ explores why food system workers are fed up—and why the Starbucks union is such a big deal.

Veteran journalist Steven Greenhouse is one of the most influential labor reporters in the U.S. Recently named a Senior Fellow at The Century Foundation, Greenhouse was a reporter for The New York Times for 31 years and spent the last 19 years covering labor and the workplace. He has covered myriad topics, including poverty among the nation’s farmworkers, the Fight for $15, locked-in workers at Walmart, and the push to roll back public employees’ bargaining rights.

His first book, The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker, won the 2009 Sidney Hillman Book Prize. We reviewed his second book, Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor, in 2019. Greenhouse continues to freelance for many publications, and his Twitter account is often the first to follow, break, and make news. We spoke to him about this moment—probably the most significant for workers in decades—and what it means for food and farmworkers.