Featured Book of the Month
Today, most Americans lack constitutional rights on the job. Instead of enjoying free speech or privacy, they can be fired for almost any reason or no reason at all. This book uses history to explain why. It takes readers back to the 1930s and 1940s when advocates across the political spectrum – labor leaders, civil rights advocates, and conservatives opposed to government regulation – set out to enshrine constitutional rights in the workplace. The book tells their interlocking stories of fighting for constitutional protections for American workers, recovers their surprising successes, explains their ultimate failure, and helps readers assess this outcome. [from publisher web site]
New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. 401 pages
ISBN 9781107613218 KF3369 .L368 2014
Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. 541 pages
ISBN 9780199653676 HD42 .O936 2014
This is essential reading for anyone interested in the effects of raising the minimum wage.
Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. 471 pages
ISBN 9780880994569 HD4918 .B45 2014
October 2014: Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local - And Helped Save an American Town
The Bassett Furniture Company was once the world's biggest wood furniture manufacturer. Run by the same powerful Virginia family for generations, it was also the center of life in Bassett, Virginia. But beginning in the 1980s, the first waves of Asian competition hit, and ultimately Bassett was forced to send its production overseas.
One man fought back: John Bassett III, a shrewd and determined third-generation factory man, now chairman of Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co, which employs more than 700 Virginians and has sales of more than $90 million. In Factory Man, Beth Macy brings to life Bassett's deeply personal furniture and family story, along with a host of characters from an industry that was as cutthroat as it was colorful. As she shows how he uses legal maneuvers, factory efficiencies, and sheer grit and cunning to save hundreds of jobs, she also reveals the truth about modern industry in America. [from publisher web site]
New York: Little, Brown and Company. 451 pages
ISBN 9780316231435 HD9773.U74 V38 2014
New York: Oxford University Press. 892 pages
ISBN 9780199755615 HD57.7 .O966 2014
By following this chicken trail, Schwartzman breaks through the deadlocked immigration debate, highlighting the broader economic and political contexts of immigration flows. The narrative that undocumented worker take jobs that Americans don't want to do is too simplistic. Schwartzman argues instead that illegal immigration is better understood as a labor story in which the hiring of undocumented workers is part of a management response to the crises of profit making and labor-management conflict. By placing the poultry industry at the center of a constellation of competing individual, corporate, and national interests and such factors as national debt, free trade, economic development, industrial restructuring, and African American unemployment, The Chicken Trail makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the implications of globalization for labor and how the externalities of free trade and neoliberalism become the social problems of nations and the tragedies of individuals.
[from publisher web site]
Ithaca: ILR Press/Cornell University Press. 202 pages
ISBN 9780801451164 HD9437.U62 S49 2013
Private equity firms have long been at the center of public debates on the impact of the financial sector on Main Street companies. Are these firms financial innovators that save failing businesses or financial predators that bankrupt otherwise healthy companies and destroy jobs? The first comprehensive examination of this topic, Private Equity at Work provides a detailed yet accessible guide to this controversial business model. Economist Eileen Appelbaum and Professor Rosemary Batt carefully evaluate the evidence—including original case studies and interviews, legal documents, bankruptcy proceedings, media coverage, and existing academic scholarship—to demonstrate the effects of private equity on American businesses and workers. They document that while private equity firms have had positive effects on the operations and growth of small and mid-sized companies and in turning around failing companies, the interventions of private equity more often than not lead to significant negative consequences for many businesses and workers.
Prior research on private equity has focused almost exclusively on the financial performance of private equity funds and the returns to their investors. Private Equity at Work provides a new roadmap to the largely hidden internal operations of these firms, showing how their business strategies disproportionately benefit the partners in private equity firms at the expense of other stakeholders and taxpayers. In the 1980s, leveraged buyouts by private equity firms saw high returns and were widely considered the solution to corporate wastefulness and mismanagement. And since 2000, nearly 11,500 companies—representing almost 8 million employees—have been purchased by private equity firms. As their role in the economy has increased, they have come under fire from labor unions and community advocates who argue that the proliferation of leveraged buyouts destroys jobs, causes wages to stagnate, saddles otherwise healthy companies with debt, and leads to subsidies from taxpayers. Appelbaum and Batt show that private equity firms’ financial strategies are designed to extract maximum value from the companies they buy and sell, often to the detriment of those companies and their employees and suppliers. Their risky decisions include buying companies and extracting dividends by loading them with high levels of debt and selling assets. These actions often lead to financial distress and a disproportionate focus on cost-cutting, outsourcing, and wage and benefit losses for workers, especially if they are unionized.
Because the law views private equity firms as investors rather than employers, private equity owners are not held accountable for their actions in ways that public corporations are. And their actions are not transparent because private equity owned companies are not regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Thus, any debts or costs of bankruptcy incurred fall on businesses owned by private equity and their workers, not the private equity firms that govern them. For employees this often means loss of jobs, health and pension benefits, and retirement income. Appelbaum and Batt conclude with a set of policy recommendations intended to curb the negative effects of private equity while preserving its constructive role in the economy. These include policies to improve transparency and accountability, as well as changes that would reduce the excessive use of financial engineering strategies by firms.
A groundbreaking analysis of a hotly contested business model, Private Equity at Work provides an unprecedented analysis of the little-understood inner workings of private equity and of the effects of leveraged buyouts on American companies and workers. This important new work will be a valuable resource for scholars, policymakers, and the informed public alike. [from publisher web site]
New York: Russell Sage Foundation. 381 pages
ISBN 9780871540393 HG4751 .A67 2014
Work is, and always will be, a central institution of society. What makes a capitalist society unique is that it treats the human capacity to engage in labor as a basic commodity. This can be a source of dynamism, as when innovative firms raise wages to attract the best and brightest. But it can also be a source of misery, as when one’s skills are suddenly rendered obsolete by forces beyond one’s control.
Jeffrey J. Sallaz asks us to rethink our basic assumptions about work. Drawing on cutting-edge theories within economic sociology and through the use of contemporary examples, he conceptualizes labor as embedded exchange. This draws attention to issues that all too frequently are overlooked in our public discourse and private imaginations: how various forms of work are classified and valued; how markets for labor operate in practice; and how people can challenge the central fiction that their work is simply a commodity to be bought and sold.
This readable and engaging book is suitable for both graduate and advanced undergraduate students. It will be of interest to economic sociologists, scholars of labor, and all of those who find themselves working for a living.
Cambridge; Malden, MA : Polity. 199 pages
ISBN 9780745653679 HD4904 .S256 2013
Community-based organizations and worker centers have developed the most promising approach to organizing the new precariat and to addressing the crisis facing the labor movement. Home to some of the nation's very first worker centers, New York City today has the single largest concentration of these organizations in the United States, yet until now no one has documented their efforts.
New Labor in New York includes thirteen fine-grained case studies of recent campaigns by worker centers and unions, each of which is based on original research and participant observation. Some of the campaigns documented here involve taxi drivers, street vendors, and domestic workers, as well as middle-strata freelancers, all of whom are excluded from basic employment laws. Other cases focus on supermarket, retail, and restaurant workers, who are nominally covered by such laws but who often experience wage theft and other legal violations; still other campaigns are not restricted to a single occupation or industry. This book offers a richly detailed portrait of the new labor movement in New York City, as well as several recent efforts to expand that movement from the local to the national scale. [from publisher web site]
Ithaca, NY: ILR Press, an imprint of Cornell University Press. 352 pages
ISBN 9780801452833 HD5858.U6 N49 2014
Collective Bargaining under Duress highlights the recent state of collective bargaining in eight different industries across both the private and public sectors. The contributors document the struggles common throughout in new organizing, securing viable collective agreements for members after winning election, and protecting earlier hard-won gains in the face of increasingly aggressive employer opposition. [from publisher web site]
Champaign, IL: Labor and Employment Relations Association. 368 pages
ISBN 9780913447062 HD6508 .C65 2013