One Job Should Be Enough

How workers’ voices were silenced in America—and how they’re fighting back

An Arizona #REDforED rally on April 26, 2018 (Gage Skidmore/Arizona Education Association)
An Arizona #REDforED rally on April 26, 2018 (Gage Skidmore/Arizona Education Association)

Steven Greenhouse was the labor and workplace reporter for The New York Times for 19 years. His last book, The Big Squeeze, is a detailed report on how American workers are being abused by corporations and bosses: freezing wages; replacing long-term employees with contractors, subcontractors, and freelancers; reducing hours. And where full-time employees are to be found, bosses are replacing pensions with 401Ks; trimming down paid holidays, vacations, and sick days; pressuring workers to do more per hour; forcing arbitration instead of lawsuits; mandating non-compete causes—not to mention off-shoring jobs to countries with fewer labor or environmental protections and cheaper wages. In the 10 years since Greenhouse’s book appeared, corporations haven’t exactly changed their tune—but the labor movement has. There’s been a surge in organizing from the service industry to Silicon Valley: the Fight for Fifteen, #REDforED teachers’ strikes, walkouts at Google and Wayfair, and, this month, 11,000 airline catering workers across 28 cities voting to authorize a strike for better conditions. Where did this momentum come from? In his new book, Beaten Down, Worked Up, Steven Greenhouse tries to answer that question, alongside its corollaries. Why did worker power decline so much over the past 50 years? And what can we do to rekindle that collective power?

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Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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