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Why, in the world's most affluent nation, are so many corporations squeezing their employees dry? In this fresh, carefully researched book, New York Times reporter Steven Greenhouse explores the economic, political, and social trends that are transforming America's workplaces, including the decline of the social contract that created the world's largest middle class and guaranteed job security and good pensions. We meet all kinds of workers-white-collar and blue-collar, high-tech and low-tech, middle-class and low-income-as we see shocking examples of injustice, including employees who are locked in during a hurricane of fired after suffering debilitating, on-the-job injuries.
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Not all employers do these things, of course. Many employers value their employees, cultivate their skills and their loyalty, and reward them fairly. (Those employers are not usually the subject of organizing drives.) But other employers, especially in recent years, have been ratcheting up demands, and wringing more out of fewer workers, in what some scholars call the “Gloves-Off Economy,” and what Steve Greenhouse calls “The Big Squeeze,” in two other recent books on the deteriorating state of work life in America. These practices have taken a big toll not only on workers’ wages and working conditions but on their legal rights and labor standards.
A new book by the labor reporter Steven Greenhouse examines how much of the American workforce is working more but earning less. Wages have stagnated, health and pension benefits have grown stingier, and job security has shriveled. The book is titled .Steven Greenhouse:We all love Barbara Ehrenreich's book , and I felt, I'm going to try building on that. And I really try looking across the board what's happening to the nation's workers. I look at, you know, farm workers. I look at Microsoft workers. I look at, you know, factory workers, whose jobs are disappearing to Mexico. And I look at, you know, software engineers at Hewlett-Packard, at some other places, you know, that have lost their jobs to India. I look at janitors in Houston who -- I focus on one janitor in Houston, who, after ten years, is making just $5.25 an hour. I write about a Dominican worker in Brooklyn who works eleven hours a day for just $35 a day. You know, the whole panoply of what's happening, to show that there's this big squeeze on the nation's workers, where, as you were just saying, wages have been flat, health and pension benefits are getting worse, at the same time corporate profits have gone up very, very nicely. Employee productivity has gone up 15, 20 percent, yet wages have been flat, plus companies are pressuring workers, you know, to work harder and harder.