Synopses & Reviews
From the longtime New York Times labor correspondent, an in-depth look at working men and women in America, the challenges they face, and how they can be re-empowered
The solution to economic insecurity could once be stated in three words: "Get a job." But this is no longer so. Even as corporate profits have climbed to new records, the number of low-wage workers has soared, while wages have stagnated for the vast majority of Americans. Behind these trends is a little-discussed problem: the decades-long decline in worker power.
Steven Greenhouse sees this decline reflected in some of the most pressing problems facing our nation today, including income inequality, declining social mobility, the gender pay gap, and the concentration of political power in the hands of the wealthy. He rebuts the prevalent view that labor unions are outmoded--or even harmful--by recounting some of labor's historic victories, the damaging pushback against unions, and the efforts of several of today's most innovative and successful worker groups. He shows us the modern labor landscape through the stories of dozens of American workers, and we see how unions have empowered the most marginalized, including young women garment workers in New York in 1909, black sanitation workers in Memphis in 1968, and hotel housekeepers today. And he proposes concrete, feasible ways in which workers' collective power can be--and is already beginning to be--rekindled and reimagined in the twenty-first century.
"A page-turning book that spans a century of worker strikes.... Engrossing, character-driven, panoramic." --Zephyr Teachout, The New York Times Book Review
We live in an era of soaring corporate profits and anemic wage gains, one in which low-paid jobs and blighted blue-collar communities have become a common feature of our nation's landscape. Behind these trends lies a little-discussed problem: the decades-long decline in worker power.
Award-winning journalist and author, Steven Greenhouse guides us through the key episodes and trends in history that are essential to understanding some of our nation's most pressing problems, including increased income inequality, declining social mobility, and the concentration of political power in the hands of the wealthy few. He exposes the modern labor landscape with the stories of dozens of American workers, from GM employees to Uber drivers to underpaid schoolteachers. Their fight to take power back is crucial for America's future, and Greenhouse proposes concrete, feasible ways in which workers' collective power can be--and is being--rekindled and reimagined in the twenty-first century.
Beaten Down, Worked Up is a stirring and essential look at labor in America, poised as it is between the tumultuous struggles of the past and the vital, hopeful struggles ahead.