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The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker


The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The Big Squeeze takes a fresh, probing, and often shocking look at the stresses and strains faced by tens of millions of American workers as wages have stagnated, health and pension benefits have grown stingier, and job security has shriveled.

Going behind the scenes, Steven Greenhouse tells the stories of software engineers in Seattle, hotel housekeepers in Chicago, call center workers in New York, and janitors in Houston, as he explores why, in the worlds most affluent nation, so many corporations are intent on squeezing their workers dry. We meet all kinds of workers: white collar and blue collar, high tech and low tech, middle income and low income; employees who stock shelves during a hurricane while locked inside their store, get fired after suffering debilitating injuries on the job, face egregious sexual harassment, and get laid off when their companies move high-tech operations abroad. We also meet young workers having a hard time starting out and seventy-year-old workers with too little money saved up to retire.

The book explains how economic, business, political, and social trends—among them globalization, the influx of immigrants, and the Wal-Mart effect—have fueled the squeeze. We see how the social contract between employers and employees, guaranteeing steady work and good pensions, has eroded over the last three decades, damaged by massive layoffs of factory and office workers and Wall Streets demands for ever-higher profits. In short, the post-World War II social contract that helped build the worlds largest and most prosperous middle class has been replaced by a startling contradiction: corporate profits, economic growth, and worker productivity have grown strongly while worker pay has languished and Americans face ever-greater pressures to work harder and longer.

Greenhouse also examines companies that are generous to their workers and can serve as models for all of corporate America: Costco, Patagonia, and the casino-hotels of Las Vegas among them. Finally, he presents a series of pragmatic, ready-to-be-implemented suggestions on what government, business, and labor should do to alleviate the squeeze.

A balanced, consistently revealing exploration of a major American crisis.


"In 1914 Henry Ford appalled his fellow automobile manufacturers by raising wages to $5 per day. This was twice the industry standard, and it prompted cries that Ford was spoiling workers for everyone else in the business. He justified the move on grounds that it was good not only for Ford Motor but for the American economy as a whole. 'Our own sales depend in a measure upon the wages we pay,' he said.... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

About the Author

Steven Greenhouse has been the labor and workplace correspondent for The New York Times since 1995. He has covered business, economics, and foreign affairs for the Times and has been a correspondent based in Paris, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. He lives in Pelham, New York.

Product Details

Tough Times for the American Worker
Greenhouse, Steven
Labor & Industrial Relations - General
Equality -- United States.
United States Economic policy.
Borzoi Books
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
9.38x6.62x1.38 in. 1.46 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Business » Management
History and Social Science » Economics » US Economy

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