Continuing his campaign to win widespread union support Sen. Bernie Sanders will propose workers take ownership of individual plants and businesses, out of the hands of the bosses and financiers who back them.
Various media reports offer some details of the self-described Socialist's plan, along with a second Sanders proposal to seat workers on corporate boards, just as workers now by law sit on corporate boards in Germany.
"We can move to an economy where workers feel they're not just a cog in the machine — one where they have power over their jobs and can make decisions," Sanders told The Washington Post. "Democracy isn't just the opportunity to vote. What democracy really means is having control over your life."
Rolling out the two plans follows Sanders' previous declaration, in early-primary state Nevada, that he opposes for-profit so-called charter schools, as well as any public money for charters.
So-called education "reformers" push the charters. The reformers have a tense relationship with teachers' unions, oppose higher teacher pay, and have challenged due process protections for teachers.
They're also the bête noire of the Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association. But recognizing they exist, AFT is busy trying to organize the charters, too.
Sanders' latest two plans, however, would appeal to industrial workers.
One would create "worker wealth funds" which corporations would be required to contribute into – and which would both pay dividends to the workers and buy shares in those firms to give workers ultimate voting control. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., another contender, is considering a similar idea.
Sanders' other proposal would mandate workers sit on corporate boards in all circumstances – regardless of how much stock they hold. Another contender, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., unveiled a virtually identical idea last year.
Germans have lived with workers on corporate boards, though not in the majority, since 1952, as a result of the post-World War II constitution drafted with U.S. help. The pro-worker section is supposed to prevent a rerun of corporate chieftains having unbridled leeway to support another Hitler with war production.
The two Sanders plans, which he would call democratic socialism, are among several differences in the current Sanders campaign from his one four years ago. Then, he criticized income inequality and pushed Medicare For All onto the national agenda as his lead points.
More than a dozen unions, plus fellow contender Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., support Medicare For All, which is single-payer government-run health care. Sanders inveighs against the insurance industry and its high co-pays, deductibles, and premiums. Harris would abolish and outlaw the insurers.
In another difference from his run for the roses four years ago, Sanders has been on the phone with or met in person several union leaders, including AFT President Randi Weingarten, Steelworkers President Leo Gerard, and Service Employees President Mary Kay Henry, reports say.
AFT and SEIU gave pre-convention endorsements – over flak from their members – to eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton four years ago. Sanders finished second, giving Clinton all she could handle in the primaries, as the enthusiasm and commitment of his backers countered her establishment support.
This time, Weingarten, at least, likes what she heard so far. Her union has also changed its endorsement process to bottom-up, not top-down as in 2016.
"Look, Bernie really wants to be president. And I think what he's doing is the work of relationship-building," Weingarten told another media outlet. "Bernie has spent time not only being the iconoclast he is and being the independent soul he is, but also working with allies to work for a better country."
Sanders wasn't the only Democratic hopeful wooing union members during the waning days of May. Former Vice President Joseph Biden used an AFT-sponsored town hall in Houston to unveil his education platform: More spending for schools that educate low-income kids, a ban on guns in schools, an increase in psychologists and other health care workers in schools and aid to teachers who carry massive student college debt loads.
Those are in line with teachers' unions' goals – and opposite schemes GOP President Donald Trump and his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, push. They want to cut school aid, not forgive the debts and force arms on teachers and other school personnel.