As David K. Shipler makes clear in this powerful, humane study, the invisible poor are engaged in the activity most respected in American ideology—hard, honest work. But their version of the American Dream is a nightmare: low-paying, dead-end jobs; the profound failure of government to improve upon decaying housing, health care, and education; the failure of families to break the patterns of child abuse and substance abuse. Shipler exposes the interlocking problems by taking us into the sorrowful, infuriating, courageous lives of the poor—white and black, Asian and Latino, citizens and immigrants. We encounter them every day, for they do jobs essential to the American economy.
This impassioned book not only dissects the problems, but makes pointed, informed recommendations for change. It is a book that stands to make a difference.
Women are moving around the globe as never before. But for every female executive racking up frequent flier miles, there are multitudes of women whose journeys go unnoticed. Each year, millions leave Mexico, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and other third world countries to work in the homes, nurseries, and brothels of the first world. This broad-scale transfer of labor associated with women's traditional roles results in an odd displacement. In the new global calculus, the female energy that flows to wealthy countries is subtracted from poor ones, often to the detriment of the families left behind. The migrant nanny--or cleaning woman, nursing care attendant, maid--eases a "care deficit" in rich countries, while her absence creates a "care deficit" back home.
Confronting a range of topics, from the fate of Vietnamese mail-order brides to the importation of Mexican nannies in Los Angeles and the selling of Thai girls to Japanese brothels, Global Woman offers an unprecedented look at a world shaped by mass migration and economic exchange on an ever-increasing scale. In fifteen vivid essays-- of which only four have been previously published-- by a diverse and distinguished group of writers, collected and introduced by bestselling authors Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild, this important anthology reveals a new era in which the main resource extracted from the third world is no longer gold or silver, but love.
“A gripping story of psychological defeat and resilience” (Bob Woodward, The Washington Post)—an intimate account of the fallout from the closing of a General Motors assembly plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, and a larger story of the hollowing of the American middle class.
This is the story of what happens to an industrial town in the American heartland when its main factory shuts down—but it’s not the familiar tale. Most observers record the immediate shock of vanished jobs, but few stay around long enough to notice what happens next when a community with a can-do spirit tries to pick itself up.
Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Amy Goldstein spent years immersed in Janesville, Wisconsin, where the nation’s oldest operating General Motors assembly plant shut down in the midst of the Great Recession. Now, with intelligence, sympathy, and insight into what connects and divides people in an era of economic upheaval, Goldstein shows the consequences of one of America’s biggest political issues. Her reporting takes the reader deep into the lives of autoworkers, educators, bankers, politicians, and job re-trainers to show why it’s so hard in the twenty-first century to recreate a healthy, prosperous working class.
“Moving and magnificently well-researched...Janesville joins a growing family of books about the evisceration of the working class in the United States. What sets it apart is the sophistication of its storytelling and analysis” (Jennifer Senior, The New York Times).
“Anyone tempted to generalize about the American working class ought to meet the people in Janesville. The reporting behind this book is extraordinary and the story—a stark, heartbreaking reminder that political ideologies have real consequences—is told with rare sympathy and insight” (Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Soul of a New Machine).
Perhaps Studs Terkel's best-known book, Working is a compelling look at jobs and the people who do them. Consisting of over one hundred interviews with everyone from a gravedigger to a studio head, from a policeman to a piano tuner, this book provides an enduring portrait of people's feelings about their working lives.
"A powerful, original, indescribable and incredible book... Only an interviewer of genius, exploiting the tape recorder as hardly anyone else has done, could possibly have brought it forth." —Lewis Mumford
"A magnificent book... a work of art. To read it is to hear America talking." —Boston Globe
"Splendid... Important... Rich and fascinating... The people we meet are not digits in a poll but real people with real names who share their ancedotes, adventures, and aspirations with us." —Business Week
"The talk in Working is good talk--earthy, passionate, honest, sometimes tender, sometimes crisp, juicy as reality, seasoned with experience." —Washington Post
"Nothing could tell our children's children who and how and what we were the way Studs Terkel will. Is it possible the great American novelist is Terkel?" —Murray Kempton
Three interrelated factors have helped create the new slavery. The enormous population explosion over the past three decades has flooded the world's labor markets with millions of impoverished, desperate people. The revolution of economic globalization and modernized agriculture has dispossessed poor farmers, making them and their families ready targets for enslavement. And rapid economic change in developing countries has bred corruption and violence, destroying social rules that might once have protected the most vulnerable individuals.
Bales's vivid case studies present actual slaves, slaveholders, and public officials in well-drawn historical, geographical, and cultural contexts. He observes the complex economic relationships of modern slavery and is aware that liberation is a bitter victory for a child prostitute or a bondaged miner if the result is starvation.
Bales offers suggestions for combating the new slavery and provides examples of very positive results from organizations such as Anti-Slavery International, the Pastoral Land Commission in Brazil, and the Human Rights Commission in Pakistan. He also calls for researchers to follow the flow of raw materials and products from slave to marketplace in order to effectively target campaigns of "naming and shaming" corporations linked to slavery. Disposable People is the first book to point the way to abolishing slavery in today's global economy.
All of the author's royalties from this book go to fund anti-slavery projects around the world.
Virtue and capital have always been twins in the capitalist, industrialized West. Our ideas of what the “virtues” of pursuing success in capitalism have changed dramatically over time. In the past, we believed that work undertaken with an ethos of industriousness promised financial stability and basic comfort and security for our families. Now, our working life is conflated with the pursuit of pleasure. Fantastically successful—and popular—entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey command us. “You’ve got to love what you do,” Jobs tells an audience of college grads about to enter the workforce, while Winfrey exhorts her audience to “live your best life.” The promises made to today’s workers seem so much larger and nobler than those of previous generations. Why settle for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and a perfectly functional eight-year-old car when you can get rich becoming your “best” self and have a blast along the way?
But workers today are doing more and more for less and less. This reality is frighteningly palpable in eroding paychecks and benefits, the rapid concentration of wealth in the hands of a tiny few, and workers’ loss of control over their labor conditions. But where is the protest and anger from workers against a system that tells them to love their work and asks them to do it for less? While winner-take-all capitalism grows ever more ruthless, the rhetoric of passion for labor proliferates.
In Do What You Love, Tokumitsu articulates and examines the sacrifices people make for a chance at loveable, self-actualizing, and, of course, wealth-generating work and the conditions facilitated by this pursuit. This book continues the conversation sparked by the author’s earlier Slate article and provides a devastating look at the state of modern America’s labor and workforce.
A compelling look at the movements and developments that propelled America to world dominance
In this landmark work, acclaimed historian Joshua Freeman has created an epic portrait of a nation both galvanized by change and driven by conflict. Beginning in 1945, the economic juggernaut awakened by World War II transformed a country once defined by its regional character into a uniform and cohesive power and set the stage for the United States’ rise to global dominance. Meanwhile, Freeman locates the profound tragedy that has shaped the path of American civic life, unfolding how the civil rights and labor movements worked for decades to enlarge the rights of millions of Americans, only to watch power ultimately slip from individual citizens to private corporations. Moving through McCarthyism and Vietnam, from the Great Society to Morning in America, Joshua Freeman’s sweeping story of a nation’s rise reveals forces at play that will continue to affect the future role of American influence and might in the greater world.
One in four American workers says their workplace is a "dictatorship." Yet that number probably would be even higher if we recognized most employers for what they are—private governments with sweeping authoritarian power over our lives, on duty and off. We normally think of government as something only the state does, yet many of us are governed far more—and far more obtrusively—by the private government of the workplace. In this provocative and compelling book, Elizabeth Anderson argues that the failure to see this stems from long-standing confusions. These confusions explain why, despite all evidence to the contrary, we still talk as if free markets make workers free—and why so many employers advocate less government even while they act as dictators in their businesses.
In many workplaces, employers minutely regulate workers' speech, clothing, and manners, leaving them with little privacy and few other rights. And employers often extend their authority to workers' off-duty lives. Workers can be fired for their political speech, recreational activities, diet, and almost anything else employers care to govern. Yet we continue to talk as if early advocates of market society—from John Locke and Adam Smith to Thomas Paine and Abraham Lincoln—were right when they argued that it would free workers from oppressive authorities. That dream was shattered by the Industrial Revolution, but the myth endures.
Private Government offers a better way to talk about the workplace, opening up space for discovering how workers can enjoy real freedom.
Based on the prestigious Tanner Lectures delivered at Princeton University's Center for Human Values, Private Government is edited and introduced by Stephen Macedo and includes commentary by cultural critic David Bromwich, economist Tyler Cowen, historian Ann Hughes, and philosopher Niko Kolodny.
In the first comprehensive biography of Chavez, Miriam Pawel offers a searching yet empathetic portrayal. Chavez emerges here as a visionary figure with tragic flaws; a brilliant strategist who sometimes stumbled; and a canny, streetwise organizer whose pragmatism was often at odds with his elusive, soaring dreams. He was an experimental thinker with eclectic passions-an avid, self-educated historian and a disciple of Gandhian non-violent protest. Drawing on thousands of documents and scores of interviews, this superbly written life deepens our understanding of one of Chavez's most salient qualities: his profound humanity.
Pawel traces Chavez's remarkable career as he conceived strategies that empowered the poor and vanquished California's powerful agriculture industry, and his later shift from inspirational leadership to a cult of personality, with tragic consequences for the union he had built. The Crusades of Cesar Chavez reveals how this most unlikely American hero ignited one of the great social movements of our time.
During the formative years of the Industrial Revolution, English workers and artisans claimed a place in society that would shape the following centuries. But the capitalist elite did not form the working class—the workers shaped their own creations, developing a shared identity in the process. Despite their lack of power and the indignity forced upon them by the upper classes, the working class emerged as England’s greatest cultural and political force. Crucial to contemporary trends in all aspects of society, at the turn of the nineteenth century, these workers united into the class that we recognize all across the Western world today.
E. P. Thompson’s magnum opus, The Making of the English Working Class defined early twentieth-century English social and economic history, leading many to consider him Britain’s greatest postwar historian. Its publication in 1963 was highly controversial in academia, but the work has become a seminal text on the history of the working class. It remains incredibly relevant to the social and economic issues of current times, with the Guardian saying upon the book’s fiftieth anniversary that it “continues to delight and inspire new readers.”
In this stirring new history, Philip Dray shows us the vital accomplishments of organized labor and illuminates its central role in our social, political, economic, and cultural evolution. His epic, character-driven narrative not only restores to our collective memory the indelible story of American labor, it also demonstrates the importance of the fight for fairness and economic democracy, and why that effort remains so urgent today.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
The value of West Virginia’s coalfields had been known for decades, and after rail arrived in the 1870s, industrialists pushed fast into the wilderness, digging mines and building company towns where they wielded nearly complete control over everyday life. The state’s high-quality coal drove American expansion and industrialization, but for tens of thousands of laborers, including boys as young as ten, mining life showed the bitter irony of the state motto, “Mountaineers are Always Free.” Attempts to unionize were met with stiff resistance. Fundamental rights were bent, then broken, and the violence evolved from bloody skirmishes to open armed conflict, as an army of miners marched to an explosive showdown. Extensively researched and told in vibrant detail, The Devil is Here in These Hills is the definitive book on an essential chapter in the history of American freedom.
From the Folks Who Brought You the Weekend also "thoroughly includes the contributions of women, Native Americans, African Americans, immigrants, and minorities, and considers events often ignored in other histories," writes Booklist, which adds that "thirty pages of stirring drawings by ‘comic journalist’ Joe Sacco add an unusual dimension to the book."
In this textbook designed for courses on aviation labor relations, the authors-experts with many years of experience in these sectors-examine and evaluate the labor process for all aspects of the aviation and aerospace industries, including aerospace manufacturing, airlines, general aviation, federal and state administrative agencies, and public airports.
Divided into three parts-Public Policy and Labor Law; Principles, Practices and Procedures in Collective Bargaining and Dispute Resolution; and the Changing Labor Relations Environment-the book provides an overview of the industries and the development of US labor law and policy, then explores the statutory, regulatory, and case laws applicable to each industry segment before concluding with an examination of current and developing issues and trends. The authors present the evolution of aviation and aerospace labor laws, going as far back as the early nineteenth century to lay the historical foundation, and cover the development and main features of the principal statutes governing labor relations in the United States today, the Railway Labor Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Civil Service Reform Act. They also investigate the growth of the industries and their impact on labor relations, as well as the current issues and challenges facing management and labor in each segment of this dynamic, sometimes volatile, business and their implications for collective bargaining. Twenty case studies not only illuminate practical applications of such fundamental concepts as unfair labor practices and unions' duty of fair representation but also enliven the subject, preparing the reader to use the concepts in real-world decision making.
A study guide with review questions, online assignments, supplemental readings, and exercises is available for students. For those teachers using the textbook in their courses, there is an instructor's manual with additional resources for developing courses in the classroom, online, or by blended learning, as well as a variety of assignments and materials to enhance and vary the mock negotiation exercise.
A revision and expansion of Robert W. Kaps's Air Transport Labor Relations, this outstanding new volume provides students and teachers with valuable information and perspectives on industries that are highly dependent on technologically skilled labor. Labor Relations in the Aviation and Aerospace Industries offers a sweeping and thorough treatment of labor relations, public policy, law, and practice and is the definitive work on the labor process in the aviation and aerospace sectors.
Fascinated by this, Paul M. Angle, the well-known historian, set out to discover what really had happened. Through enormous research he has been able to reconstruct the whole story in all its horrible, scarifying detail. Using the best techniques of reportage, without editorializing, without subjective coloration, he has produced a narrative beyond imagination. It begins with the "Bloody Vendetta," a feud that rampaged in the 1870s. It deals with labor's success in organizing coal mines in southern Illinois, an affair that twice blew up in violence. It covers the Herrin Massacre of 1922—perhaps the most shocking episode in the history of organized labor in this country—and the subsequent trials. The Ku Klux Klan provides material for four chapters that come to a climax in a fatal duel between the Klan and its opponents. And it ends with the story of the gang war between Charlie Birger and the Shelton brothers. It is a tale to shake the most phlegmatic reader.
It's no secret that hundreds of companies have been slashing pensions and health coverage earned by millions of retirees. Employers blame an aging workforce, stock market losses, and spiraling costs- what they call "a perfect storm" of external forces that has forced them to take drastic measures.
But this so-called retirement crisis is no accident. Ellen E. Schultz, award-winning investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal, reveals how large companies and the retirement industry-benefits consultants, insurance companies, and banks-have all played a huge and hidden role in the death spiral of American pensions and benefits.
A little over a decade ago, most companies had more than enough set aside to pay the benefits earned by two generations of workers, no matter how long they lived. But by exploiting loopholes, ambiguous regulations, and new accounting rules, companies essentially turned their pension plans into piggy banks, tax shelters, and profit centers.
Drawing on original analysis of company data, government filings, internal corporate documents, and confidential memos, Schultz uncovers decades of widespread deception during which employers have exaggerated their retiree burdens while lobbying for government handouts, secretly cutting pensions, tricking employees, and misleading shareholders. She reveals how companies:Siphon billions of dollars from their pension plans to finance downsizings and sell the assets in merger deals Overstate the burden of rank-and-file retiree obligations to justify benefits cuts while simultaneously using the savings to inflate executive pay and pensions Hide their growing executive pension liabilities, which at some companies now exceed the liabilities for the regular pension plans Purchase billions of dollars of life insurance on workers and use the policies as informal executive pension funds. When the insured workers and retirees die, the company collects tax-free death benefits Preemptively sue retirees after cutting retiree health benefits and use other legal strategies to erode their legal protections.
Though the focus is on large companies-which drive the legislative agenda-the same games are being played at smaller companies, non-profits, public pensions plans and retirement systems overseas. Nor is this a partisan issue: employees of all political persuasions and income levels-from managers to miners, pro- football players to pilots-have been slammed.
Retirement Heist is a scathing and urgent expose of one of the most critical and least understood crises of our time.
Mexican-American civil rights and labor activist Cesar Chavez (1927–1993), comes to life in this vivid portrait of the charismatic and influential fighter who boycotted supermarkets and took on corporations, the government, and the powerful Teamsters Union. Jacques E. Levy gained unprecedented access to Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union in writing this account of one of the most successful labor movements in history which can also serve as a guidebook for social and political change.
“[The] definitive work. The book's major contribution lies in its portrait of the man himself—deeply religious in an almost mystical fashion; a dedicated battler, but not a dedicated hater; a leader who not only will not ask, but will not allow his followers to make the sacrifices he has made.” —Publishers Weekly
“One of the heroic figures of our time.” —Senator Robert F. Kennedy
Jacques E. Levy (1927–2004), a prize-winning journalist, spent six years with Cesar Chavez researching and writing this book.
Fred Ross Jr. is a spokesperson for the Service Employees' International Union and the son of Fred Ross, Chavez's mentor.
Jacqueline Levy is the daughter of Jacques E. Levy and a high school science teacher in Sonoma County, California.
Guy Standing argues that this class is producing instabilities in society. Although it would be wrong to characterise members of the Precariat as victims, many are frustrated and angry. The Precariat is dangerous because it is internally divided, leading to the villainisation of migrants and other vulnerable groups. Lacking agency, its members may be susceptible to the siren calls of political extremism.
To prevent a 'politics of inferno', Guy Standing argues for a 'politics of paradise', in which redistribution and income security are reconfi gured in a new kind of Good Society, and in which the fears and aspirations of the Precariat are made central to a progressive strategy.
After decades of off-shoring and downsizing that have left blue collar workers obsolete and stranded, the United States is now on the verge of an industrial renaissance. Companies like Apple, BMW, Bosch, and Volkswagen are all opening plants and committing millions of dollars to build products right here on American soil.
The only problem: we don't have a skilled enough labor pool to fill these positions, which are in many cases technically demanding and require specialized skills. A decades-long series of idealistic educational policies with the expressed goal of getting every student to go to college has left a generation of potential workers out of the system. Touted as a progressive, egalitarian institution providing opportunity even to those with the greatest need, the American secondary school system has in fact deepened existing inequalities, leaving behind millions of youth, especially those who live in the de-industrialized Northeast and Midwest, without much of a future at all.
We can do better, argue acclaimed sociologists Katherine Newman and Hella Winston. Taking a page from the successful experience of countries like Germany and Austria, where youth unemployment is a mere 7%, they call for a radical reevaluation of the idea of vocational training, long discredited as an instrument of tracking. The United States can prepare a new, high-performance labor force if we revamp our school system to value industry apprenticeship and rigorous technical education. By doing so, we will not only be able to meet the growing demand for skilled employees in dozens of sectors where employers decry the absence of well trained workers -- we will make the American Dream accessible to all.
Basing her work on an archive of more than 800 oral histories from the United States and Mexico, Loza is the first scholar to carefully differentiate between the experiences of mestizo guest workers and the many Mixtec, Zapotec, Purhepecha, and Mayan laborers. In doing so, she captures the myriad ways these defiant workers responded to the intense discrimination and exploitation of an unjust system that still persists today.
The shift toward automation is about to create a tsunami of unemployment. Not in the distant future--now. One recent estimate predicts 45 million American workers will lose their jobs within the next twelve years--jobs that won't be replaced. In a future marked by restlessness and chronic unemployment, what will happen to American society?
In The War on Normal People, Andrew Yang paints a dire portrait of the American economy. Rapidly advancing technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics and automation software are making millions of Americans' livelihoods irrelevant. The consequences of these trends are already being felt across our communities in the form of political unrest, drug use, and other social ills. The future looks dire-but is it unavoidable?
In The War on Normal People, Yang imagines a different future -- one in which having a job is distinct from the capacity to prosper and seek fulfillment. At this vision's core is Universal Basic Income, the concept of providing all citizens with a guaranteed income-and one that is rapidly gaining popularity among forward-thinking politicians and economists. Yang proposes that UBI is an essential step toward a new, more durable kind of economy, one he calls "human capitalism."
In this comprehensive look at the real, human toll of America's unsound trade policy, Senator Byron Dorgan exposes the myth of "free trade." Indeed, free trade is not free; it is something that is slowly but surely draining away American prosperity. Sure, Chinese labor can drive down prices at Wal-Mart; at the same time, however, those saved wages-dollars that would have gone to buy these cheaper goods-are gone. Too soon, it will all come crashing down.
Major U.S. corporations continue to ship jobs overseas by the millions and, because of their influence in Washington, avoid paying a king's ransom in taxes. Many billions of dollars that these companies fleece from the government and the American people go overwhelmingly to investments in expanding production capabilities overseas. In short, our government is in the grip of corporate and foreign interests, and the American worker has born the brunt of this culture of corruption. How can we stem the tide of outsourcing? Why has the White House done nothing? Will the middle class survive?
From describing corporate profiteering to calling to action a lethargic, inactive government, Byron Dorgan exposes the truth about the destructive relationship between corporations and Congress and proposes strategies for what can really be done to preserve America's preeminence in the world.
Ethnic Mexican residents of South Texas fought back by organizing and by leaving, migrating to destinations around the United States where employers eagerly hired them--and continued to exploit them. In From South Texas to the Nation, John Weber reinterprets the United States' record on human and labor rights. This important book illuminates the way in which South Texas pioneered the low-wage, insecure, migration-dependent labor system on which so many industries continue to depend.
The inequality reshaping the country goes beyond money and income: the workplace is more authoritarian than ever, and we have even less of a say over our conditions at work. He tells us stories, sometimes humorous but more often chilling, about problems working people like his own clients—cabdrivers, cashiers, even Chicago public school teachers—now face in our largely union-free economy. He then explains why a new kind of labor movement (and not just more higher education) will be crucial for saving what is left of the middle class; pushing Keynes’s original, sometimes forgotten ideas for getting the rich to invest and reduce our balance of trade; and promoting John Dewey’s "democratic way of life"—one that would start in the schools and continue in our places of work.
A "public policy" book that is compulsively readable, Only One Thing Can Save Us is vintage Geoghegan, blending acerbic and witty commentary with unparalleled insight into the real dynamics (and human experience) of working in America today.
Wal-Mart, the world's largest company, roared out of the rural South to change the way business is done. Deploying computer-age technology, Reagan-era politics, and Protestant evangelism, Sam Walton's firm became a byword for cheap goods and low-paid workers, famed for the ruthless efficiency of its global network of stores and factories. But the revolution has gone further: Sam's protégés have created a new economic order which puts thousands of manufacturers, indeed whole regions, in thrall to a retail royalty. Like the Pennsylvania Railroad and General Motors in their heyday, Wal-Mart sets the commercial model for a huge swath of the global economy.
In this lively, probing investigation, historian Nelson Lichtenstein deepens and expands our knowledge of the merchandising giant. He shows that Wal-Mart's rise was closely linked to the cultural and religious values of Bible Belt America as well as to the imperial politics, deregulatory economics, and laissez-faire globalization of Ronald Reagan and his heirs. He explains how the company's success has transformed American politics, and he anticipates a day of reckoning, when challenges to the Wal-Mart way, at home and abroad, are likely to change the far-flung empire.
Insightful, original, and steeped in the culture of retail life, The Retail Revolution draws on first hand reporting from coastal China to rural Arkansas to give a fresh and necessary understanding of the phenomenon that has transformed international commerce.
One of the most important civil rights leaders in American history, Cesar Chavez was a firm believer in the principles of nonviolence, and he effectively employed peaceful tactics to further his cause. Through his efforts, he helped achieve dignity, fair wages, benefits, and humane working conditions for hundreds of thousands of farm workers. This extensive collection of Chavez's speeches and writings chronicles his progression and development as a leader, and includes previously unpublished material. From speeches to spread the word of the Delano Grape Strike to testimony before the House of Representatives about the hazards of pesticides, Chavez communicated in clear, direct language and motivated people everywhere with an unflagging commitment to his ideals.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
The new edition of The State of Working America also expands on this analysis of American living standards, most notably by placing the Great Recession in historical context. The severe economic downturn that began in December 2007 came on the heels of a historically weak recovery following the 2001 recession, a recovery that saw many measures of living standards stagnate. The authors view the past decade as "lost" in terms of living standards growth, and warn that millions of American households face another decade of lost opportunity.
Especially troubling, the authors stress, is that while overall economic performance in the decades before the Great Recession was more than sufficient to broadly raise living standards, broad-based growth was blocked by rising inequality driven largely by policy choices. A determinedly data-driven narrative, The State of Working America remains the most comprehensive resource about the economic experience of working Americans.
The case studies in Working for Justice are all based on original field research on organizing campaigns among L.A. day laborers, garment workers, car wash workers, security officers, janitors, taxi drivers, hotel workers as well as the efforts of ethnically focused worker centers and immigrant rights organizations. The authors interviewed key organizers, gained access to primary documents, and conducted participant observation. Working for Justice is a valuable resource for sociologists and other scholars in the interdisciplinary field of labor studies, as well as for advocates and policymakers.
"Captivating and brilliantly conceived. . . [The Hamlet Fire] will provide readers with insights into our current national politics."
—The Washington Post
A "gifted writer" (Chicago Tribune) uses a long forgotten factory fire in small-town North Carolina to show how cut-rate food and labor have become the new American norm
For decades, the small, quiet town of Hamlet, North Carolina, thrived thanks to the railroad. But by the 1970s, it had become a postindustrial backwater, a magnet for businesses searching for cheap labor with little or almost no official oversight. One of these businesses was Imperial Food Products. The company paid its workers a dollar above the minimum wage to stand in pools of freezing water for hours on end, scraping gobs of fat off frozen chicken breasts before they got dipped in batter and fried into golden brown nuggets and tenders. If a worker complained about the heat or the cold or missed a shift to take care of their children or went to the bathroom too often they were fired. But they kept coming back to work because Hamlet was a place where jobs were scarce. Then, on the morning of September 3, 1991, the day after Labor Day, this factory that had never been inspected burst into flame. Twenty-five people—many of whom were black women with children, living on their own—perished that day behind the plant’s locked and bolted doors.
Eighty years after the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, industrial disasters were supposed to have been a thing of the past. After spending several years talking to local residents, state officials, and survivors of the fire, award-winning historian Bryant Simon has written a vivid, potent, and disturbing social autopsy of this town, this factory, and this time that shows how cheap labor, cheap government, and cheap food came together in a way that was bound for tragedy.
Alford mixes narrative analysis with political insight to offer a frank picture of whistleblowing and a controversial view of organizations. According to Alford, the organization as an institution is dedicated to the destruction of the moral individualist. Frequently, he claims, the organization succeeds, which means that the whistleblowers are broken, unable to reconcile their actions and beliefs with the responses they receive from others. In addition to being mistreated by organizations, whistleblowers often do not receive support from their families and communities. In order to make sense of their stories, Alford claims, some whistleblowers must set aside the things they have always believed: that loyalty is larger than the herd instinct, that someone in charge will do the right thing, that the family is a haven from a heartless world. Alford argues that few whistleblowers recover from their experience, and that, even then, they live in a world very different from the one they knew before their confrontation with the organization.
Through interviews with and observation of messengers at work and play, Kidder shows how many become acclimated to the fast-paced, death-defying nature of the job, often continuing to ride with the same sense of purpose off the clock. In chaotic bike races called alleycats, messengers careen through the city in hopes of beating their peers to the finish line. Some messengers travel the world to take part in these events, and the top prizes are often little more than bragging rights. Taken together, the occupation and the messengers' after-hours pursuits highlight a creative subculture inextricably linked to the urban environment. The work of bike messengers is intense and physically difficult. It requires split-second reflexes, an intimate knowledge of street maps and traffic patterns, and a significant measure of courage in the face of both bodily harm and job insecurity. In Urban Flow, Kidder gives readers a rare opportunity to catch more than a fleeting glimpse of these habitués of city streets.
Armed with an open mind and a sense of humor, Fellner takes readers on an expedition into the muscle and soul of the coffee company. She finds a corporation filled with contradictions: between employee-friendly processes and anti-union practices; between an internationalist vision and a longing for global dominance; between community individuality and cultural hegemony. On a daily basis Starbucks walks a fine line. It must be profitable enough to please Wall Street and principled enough to please social justice advocates. Although observers might argue that the company has done well at achieving a balance, Starbucks's leaders run the risk of satisfying neither constituency and must constantly justify themselves to both.
Through the voices of Central American coffee farmers, officers at corporate headquarters, independent café owners, unionists, baristas, traders, global justice activists, and consumers, Fellner explores the forces that affect Starbucks's worth and worthiness. Along the way, she subjects her own unabashedly progressive perspective to scrutiny and emerges with a compelling and unexpected look at Starbucks, the global economy, our economic convictions, and the values behind our morning cup of joe.
Leidner's fascinating report from the frontlines of two major American corporations uncovers the methods and consequences of regulating workers' language, looks, attitudes, ideas, and demeanor. Her study reveals the complex and often unexpected results that come with the routinization of service work.
Some McDonald's workers resent the constraints of prescribed uniforms and rigid scripts, while others appreciate how routines simplify their jobs and give them psychological protection against unpleasant customers. Combined Insurance goes further than McDonald's in attempting to standardize the workers' very selves, instilling in them adroit maneuvers to overcome customer resistance.
The routinization of service work has both poignant and preposterous consequences. It tends to undermine shared understandings about individuality and social obligations, sharpening the tension between the belief in personal autonomy and the domination of a powerful corporate culture.
Richly anecdotal and accessibly written, Leidner's book charts new territory in the sociology of work. With service sector work becoming increasingly important in American business, her timely study is particularly welcome.
Marquis credits this success to the immigrants from Mexico, Haiti, and Guatemala who formed the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a neuroscience major who takes great pride in the watermelon crew he runs, a leading farmer/grower who was once homeless, and a retired New York State judge who volunteered to stuff envelopes and ended up building a groundbreaking institution. Through the Fair Food Program that they have developed, fought for, and implemented, these people have changed the lives of more than thirty thousand field workers. I Am Not a Tractor! offers a range of solutions to a problem that is rooted in our nation’s slave history and that is worsened by ongoing conflict over immigration.