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Good Jobs America: Making Work Better for Everyone (Russell Sage Foundation) by Paul Osterman and Beth Shulman. From the Russell Sage description of Good Jobs America: "America confronts a jobs crisis that has two faces. The first is obvious when we read the newspapers or talk with our friends and neighbors: there are simply not enough jobs to go around. The second jobs crisis is more subtle but no less serious: far too many jobs fall below the standard that most Americans would consider decent work. A quarter of working adults are trapped in jobs that do not provide living wages, health insurance, or much hope of upward mobility. The problem spans all races and ethnic groups and includes both native-born Americans and immigrants. But Good Jobs America provides examples from industries ranging from food services and retail to manufacturing and hospitals to demonstrate that bad jobs can be made into good ones. Paul Osterman and Beth Shulman make a rigorous argument that by enacting policies to help employers improve job quality we can create better jobs, and futures, for all workers." ... <More> Paul Osterman is a LERA member and a faculty member at MIT's Sloan School of Management and the MIT Department of Urban Planning. The late Beth Shulman (above left) was a senior fellow at Demost, chair of the board of the National Employment Law Project and co-chair of the Fairness Initiative on Low-Wage Work. She was the author of The Betrayal of Work: How Low-Wage Jobs Fail 30 Million Americans. Newsweek's Anna Quindlen said The Betrayal of Work "should be required reading for every presidential candidate and member of Congress." Shulman, who was a LERA board member from 1998-2000, died in February 2010.
Lean But Agile: Rethink Workplace Planning and Gain a True Competitive Edge (AMACON, a divison of the Amerian Management Association) by William J. Rothwell, James Graber, Neil McCormick. From the AMACOM book description: "Powerful strategies for streamlining your staff and the work they do. As organizations strive to maximize efficiency to meet stringent budgets, a general 'do more with less' mandate is no longer sufficient. Managers and executives must evaluate every process and every role, and do away with assumptions about how work gets done and who does it. Lean but Agile presents a system for analyzing work and selecting the ideal combination of cost-effective resources — employees, consultants, contractors, temporary workers, vendors — to accomplish it. The book advocates changes in hiring, goal-setting, learning and development, and performance management, and discusses the introduction, implementation, and management of lean work and agile staffing methods. It also explores the fundamental role technology can play in the transformation. Packed with practical advice, examples, guides, worksheets, diagrams, and metrics, Lean but Agile will help leaders, managers, and human resource professionals optimize their workforces while still achieving superior results." Rothwell is professor of Workplace Learning and Performance at Pennsylvania State University and President of Rothwell & Associates, a business consultancy. Graber is Managing Director of Business Decisions, Inc., a talent management technology and software company. McCormick is a senior vice president at Talent2 with 30 years’ experience in international management, human resources and consulting.
The Accordian Family: Boomerang Kids, Anxious Parents and the Private Toll of Global Competition (Beacon) by Katherine Newman, a sociologist and dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. From the Beacon description: "Why are adults in their twenties and thirties stuck in their parents' homes in the world's wealthiest countries? There's no question that globalization has drastically changed the cultural landscape across the world. The cost of living is rising, and high unemployment rates have created an untenable economic climate that has severely compromised the path to adulthood for young people in their twenties and thirties. And there's no end in sight. Families are hunkering down, expanding the reach of their households to envelop economically vulnerable young adults. Acclaimed sociologist Katherine Newman explores the trend toward a rising number of 'accordion families' composed of adult children who will be living off their parents' retirement savings with little means of their own when the older generation is gone. While the trend crosses the developed world, the cultural and political responses to accordion families differ dramatically. In Japan, there is a sense of horror and fear associated with 'parasite singles,' whereas in Italy, the 'cult of mammismo,' or mamma's boys, is common and widely accepted, though the government is rallying against it. Meanwhile, in Spain, frustrated parents and millenials angrily blame politicians and big business for the growing number of youth forced to live at home. Newman's investigation, conducted in six countries, transports the reader into the homes of accordion families and uncovers fascinating links between globalization and the failure-to-launch trend. Drawing from over three hundred interviews, Newman concludes that nations with weak welfare states have the highest frequency of accordion families while the trend is virtually unknown in the Nordic countries. The United States is caught in between. But globalization is reshaping the landscape of adulthood everywhere, and the consequences are far-reaching in our private lives. In this gripping and urgent book, Newman urges Americans not to simply dismiss the boomerang generation but, rather, to strategize how we can help the younger generation make its own place in the world."
They Say Cut Back, We Say Fight Back! Welfare Activism in an Era of Retrenchment (Russell Sage Foundation) by Ellen Reese, Hull Professor and chair, Department of Feminst Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara. From the Russell Sage press description of They Say Cut Back, We Say Fight Back!: "In 1996, President Bill Clinton hailed the 'end of welfare as we know it' when he signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act. The law effectively transformed the nation’s welfare system from an entitlement to a work-based one, instituting new time limits on welfare payments and restrictions on public assistance for legal immigrants. In They Say Cutback, We Say Fight Back!, Ellen Reese offers a timely review of welfare reform and its controversial design, now sorely tested in the aftermath of the Great Recession. The book also chronicles the largely untold story of a new grassroots coalition that opposed the law and continues to challenge and reshape its legacy. While most accounts of welfare policy highlight themes of race, class and gender, They Say Cutback examines how welfare recipients and their allies contested welfare reform from the bottom up. Using in-depth case studies of campaigns in Wisconsin and California, Reese argues that a crucial phase in policymaking unfolded after the bill’s passage. As counties and states set out to redesign their welfare programs, activists scored significant victories by lobbying officials at different levels of American government through media outreach, protests and organizing. ..." <Read more>They Say Cut Back, We Say Fight Back! is a volume in the American Sociological Association's Rose Series in Sociology.
Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960 — 2010 (Crown Publishing Group) by Charles Murray. From the Crown Forum description of Coming Apart: "In Coming Apart, Charles Murray explores the formation of American classes that are different in kind from anything we have ever known, focusing on whites as a way of driving home the fact that the trends he describes do not break along lines of race or ethnicity. Drawing on five decades of statistics and research, Coming Apart demonstrates that a new upper class and a new lower class have diverged so far in core behaviors and values that they barely recognize their underlying American kinship — divergence that has nothing to do with income inequality and that has grown during good economic times and bad. The top and bottom of white America increasingly live in different cultures, Murray argues, with the powerful upper class living in enclaves surrounded by their own kind, ignorant about life in mainstream America, and the lower class suffering from erosions of family and community life that strike at the heart of the pursuit of happiness. That divergence puts the success of the American project at risk. The evidence in Coming Apart is about white America. Its message is about all of America." Murray also wrote The Bell Curve. Click here to read the New York Times Sunday Book Review of Coming Apart. Click here to read Paul Krugman's Feb. 9 New York Times column, "Money and Morals," about Coming Apart.
From Iron Rice Bowl to Informalization: Markets, Workers, and the State in a Changing China (Cornell ILR Press. Use the CAU6 code to receive a 20 percent discount from the list price of the book.) by Sarosh Kuruvilla, Ching Kwan Lee, Mary E. Gallagher (eds.) From the ILR Press book description: "In the thirty years since the opening of China's economy, China's economic growth has been nothing short of phenomenal. At the same time, however, its employment relations system has undergone a gradual but fundamental transformation from stable and permanent employment with good benefits (often called the iron rice bowl), to a system characterized by highly precarious employment with no benefits for about 40 percent of the population. Similar transitions have occurred in other countries, such as Korea, although perhaps not at such a rapid pace as in China. This shift echoes the move from 'breadwinning' careers to contingent employment in the postindustrial United States. In From Iron Rice Bowl to Informalization, an interdisciplinary group of authors examines the nature, causes, and consequences of informal employment in China at a time of major changes in Chinese society. This book provides a guide to the evolving dynamics among workers, unions, NGOs, employers, and the state as they deal with the new landscape of insecure employment. Contributors: Fang Cai, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Baohua Dong, East China University of Politics and Law; Mark W. Frazier, University of Oklahoma; Mary E. Gallagher, University of Michigan; Sarosh Kuruvilla, Cornell University; Ching Kwan Lee, UCLA; Kun-Chin Lin, King's College, London; LERA member Mingwei Liu, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; Albert Park, University of Oxford; Yuan Shen, Tsinghua University; Sarah Swider, Wayne State University; LERA member Lu Zhang, Temple University." About the editors: Sarosh Kuruvilla is a LERA member and Professor of Comparative Industrial Relations, Asian Studies, and Public Affairs at Cornell University, where he serves as chair of ILR International Programs. Ching Kwan Lee is a LERA member and Professor of Sociology at UCLA and the author of Gender and the South China Miracle and Against the Law: Labor Protests in China's Rustbelt and Sunbelt. Mary E. Gallagher is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan and the author of Contagious Capitalism: Globalization and the Politics of Labor in China."
Wisconsin Uprising: Labor Fights Back (Monthly Review Press) edited by Michael D. Yates. From the Monthly Review Press description: "In early 2011, the nation was stunned to watch Wisconsin’s state capitol in Madison come under sudden and unexpected occupation by union members and their allies. The protests to defend collective-bargaining rights were militant and practically unheard of in this era of declining union power. Nearly forty years of neoliberalism and the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression have battered the labor movement, and workers have been largely complacent in the face of stagnant wages, slashed benefits and services, widening unemployment, and growing inequality. That is, until now. Under pressure from a union-busting governor and his supporters in the legislature, and inspired by the massive uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, workers in Wisconsin shook the nation with their colossal display of solidarity and outrage. Their struggle is still ongoing, but there are lessons to be learned from the Wisconsin revolt. This timely book brings together some of the best labor journalists and scholars in the United States, many of whom were on the ground at the time, to examine the causes and impact of events, and suggest how the labor movement might proceed in this new era of union militancy." LERA's Michael Zweig, director of the Center for Working Class Life, economics department, SUNY-Stony Brook, contributed the essay, "Beyond Wisconsin: Seeking New Priorities as Labor Challenges War." LERA member Stephanie Luce, associate professor of labor studies at The Murphy Institute at CUNY, contributed the essay, "What Can We Learn from Wisconsin?"
Borrow — The American Way of Debt: How Personal Credit Created the American Middle Class and Almost Bankrupted the Nation (Random House, Vintage) by Louis Hyman, an economic historian and professor at Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations. From the Booklist review: “We learn from historian Hyman that when debt became a commodity to be bought and sold, it enabled the growth of the twentieth-century economy. Americans increasingly relied on expected future income from wages rather than cash to make consumer purchases. The author traces consumer debt beginning in the 1910s and through the 1920s, when personal loans became legal and mortgages were in demand. After WWII, consumption continued to be financed by debt, particularly television sets. Returning veterans could borrow easily through the VA loan program, and retailers developed revolving-credit programs. As the century progressed, we learn about the rise of discount stores over department stores, loans financed by issuing corporate debt, securitization, and credit cards. Hyman indicates that although policymakers declare the worst of our current financial crisis ended in mid-2009, important causes continue, and he concludes, ‘Debt, along with every other aspect of capitalism, is something that we have created and have the capacity to master.’ This is an excellent book.” Click here to read the Kirkus Review.
She Was One of Us: Eleanor Roosevelt and the American Worker (New in paperback. Cornell University Press: Use discount code CAU6 to receive a 20 percent discount off the book's list price.) by Brigid O'Farrell. From the Cornell University Press description of She Was One of Us: "Although born to a life of privilege and married to the President of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt was a staunch and lifelong advocate for workers and, for more than 25 years, a proud member of the AFL-CIO's Newspaper Guild. She Was One of Us tells for the first time the story of her deep and lasting ties to the American labor movement. Brigid O'Farrell follows Roosevelt — one of the most admired and, in her time, controversial women in the world — from the tenements of New York City to the White House, from local union halls to the convention floor of the AFL-CIO, from coal mines to political rallies to the United Nations. Roosevelt worked with activists around the world to develop a shared vision of labor rights as human rights, which are central to democracy. In her view, everyone had the right to a decent job, fair working conditions, a living wage, and a voice at work. She Was One of Us provides a fresh and compelling account of her activities on behalf of workers, her guiding principles, her circle of friends — including Rose Schneiderman of the Women's Trade Union League and the garment unions and Walter Reuther, 'the most dangerous man in Detroit' — and her adversaries, such as the influential journalist Westbrook Pegler, who attacked her as a dilettante and her labor allies as 'thugs and extortioners.' As O'Farrell makes clear, Roosevelt was not afraid to take on opponents of workers' rights or to criticize labor leaders if they abused their power; she never wavered in her support for the rank and file. Today, union membership has declined to levels not seen since the Great Depression, and the silencing of American workers has contributed to rising inequality. In She Was One of Us, Eleanor Roosevelt's voice can once again be heard by those still working for social justice and human rights." O'Farrell is an active LERA member.
Disintegrating Democracy at Work: Labor Unions and the Future of Good Jobs in the Service Economy (Cornell University Press: Use discount code CAU6 to receive a 20 percent discount off the book's list price.) by Virginia Doellgast. From the Cornell University Press description of Disintegrating Democracy at Work: "The shift from manufacturing to service-based economies has often been accompanied by the expansion of low-wage and insecure employment. Many consider the effects of this shift inevitable. In Disintegrating Democracy at Work, Virginia Doellgast contends that high pay and good working conditions are possible even for marginal service jobs. This outcome, however, depends on strong unions and encompassing collective-bargaining institutions, which are necessary to give workers a voice in the decisions that affect the design of their jobs and the distribution of productivity gains. Doellgast's conclusions are based on a comparative study of the changes that occurred in the organization of call center jobs in the United States and Germany following the liberalization of telecommunications markets. Based on survey data and interviews with workers, managers, and union representatives, she found that German managers more often took the 'high road' than those in the United States, investing in skills and giving employees more control over their work. Doellgast traces the difference to stronger institutional supports for workplace democracy in Germany. However, these democratic structures were increasingly precarious, as managers in both countries used outsourcing strategies to move jobs to workplaces with lower pay and weaker or no union representation. Doellgast’s comparative findings show the importance of policy choices in closing off these escape routes, promoting broad access to good jobs in expanding service industries." Doellgast is a lecturer at the London School of Economics and a LERA member.
Organizing at the Margins:The Symbolic Politics of Labor in South Korea and the United States (Cornell University Press: Use discount code CAU6 to receive a 20 percent discount off the book's list price.) by Jennifer Jihye Chun. From the Cornell University Press description of Organizing at the Margins: "The realities of globalization have produced a surprising reversal in the focus and strategies of labor movements around the world. After years of neglect and exclusion, labor organizers are recognizing both the needs and the importance of immigrants and women employed in the growing ranks of low-paid and insecure service jobs. In Organizing at the Margins, Jennifer Jihye Chun focuses on this shift as it takes place in two countries: South Korea and the United States. Using comparative historical inquiry and in-depth case studies, she shows how labor movements in countries with different histories and structures of economic development, class formation, and cultural politics embark on similar trajectories of change. Chun shows that as the base of worker power shifts from those who hold high-paying, industrial jobs to the formerly 'unorganizable,' labor movements in both countries are employing new strategies and vocabularies to challenge the assault of neoliberal globalization on workers' rights and livelihoods. Deftly combining theory and ethnography, she argues that by cultivating alternative sources of 'symbolic leverage' that root workers' demands in the collective morality of broad-based communities, as opposed to the narrow confines of workplace disputes, workers in the lowest tiers are transforming the power relations that sustain downgraded forms of work. Her case studies of janitors and personal-service workers in the United States and South Korea offer a surprising comparison between converging labor movements in two very different countries as they refashion their relation to historically disadvantaged sectors of the workforce and expand the moral and material boundaries of union membership in a globalizing world."
The Working Class Majority: America's Best Kept Secret (Second edition, Cornell University Press: Use discount code CAU6 to receive a 20 percent discount off the book's list price.) by Michael Zweig. From the Publishers Weekly review of the first edition: "In this pungent critique of class and economics in the United States — part economic theory, part political lecture, and part reportage of working-class life — Zweig offers an insightful, radical analysis that will make many readers rethink commonly held but unexamined beliefs. Zweig supports his arguments with statistics, facts and personal stories and argues with a forcefulness and conviction backed by a deeply moral sense of the dignity that is due to each person in their work and workplace." From the Cornell University Press descriptor of The Working Class Majority: "In the second edition of his essential book — which incorporates vital new information and new material on immigration, race, gender, and the social crisis following 2008 — Michael Zweig warns that by allowing the working class to disappear into categories of 'middle class' or 'consumers,' we also allow those with the dominant power, capitalists, to vanish among the rich. Economic relations then appear as comparisons of income or lifestyle rather than as what they truly are — contests of power, at work and in the larger society." Zweig is a LERA member and the director of the Center for the Study of Working Class Life, Department of Economics, State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Labor Arbitration -The Suspension of Nurse Kevin (Pennsylvania State University and the National Academy of Arbitrators). This instructional film was submitted by LERA member Paul Clark, professor and head of the labor studies and employment relations department at Penn State. Here's part of the descriptor Clark sent: "Most of the arbitration films available today are dated. Depictions of hearings set in the 1970s and 1980s are not helpful in conveying the message that arbitration can play an important role in the modern American workplace. Using a case written and enacted by actual union and management practitioners and an experienced arbitrator, the film replicates, to the greatest degree possible, the experience of observing an arbitration hearing. Shot in a documentary style, the film enacts an arbitration hearing involving the suspension of an employee for insubordination." To view a four-minute trailer for the film click here. The 66 min. DVD is available for $149 ($99 for non-profits and educational institutions).
American Political Economy in Global Perspective (Cambridge University Press) by Harold L. Wilensky. Per the University of California Berkeley Public Affairs Office in its obituary of Wilensky who died Oct. 30: "At the time of his death, Wilensky had completed a book to be published in 2012 and had sent the final page proofs to Cambridge University Press nine days before his death. In this book, which concluded Wilensky’s 40-year project on the comparative political economy of advanced industrial countries, he devoted special attention to the past 15 years of crisis and to contemporary American policies and politics." Here is the description of the book from the Cambridge University Press: "This book is a guide to claims about the proper role of government and markets in a global economy. Moving between systematic comparison of nineteen rich democracies and debate about what the United States can do to restore a more civilized, egalitarian and fair society, Harold L. Wilensky tells us how six of these countries got on a low road to economic progress and which components of their labor-crunch strategy are uniquely American. He provides an overview of the impact of major dimensions of globalization, only one of which — the interaction of the internationalization of finance and the rapid increase in the autonomy of central banks — undermines either national sovereignty or job security, labor standards, and the welfare state. Although Wilensky views American policy and politics through the lens of globalization, he concludes that the nation-state remains the center of personal identity, social solidarity and political action." You can access the complete Harold L. Wilensky obituary here.
Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). While the Occupy movement has moved American income inequality into the vernacular and the media, less mentioned is that income inequality also has risen in most of the 22 OECD industrialized nations. From the OECD press release: "Divided We Stand finds that the average income of the richest 10 percent is now about nine times that of the poorest 10 percent across the OECD. The income gap has risen even in traditionally egalitarian countries, such as Germany, Denmark and Sweden, from 5 to 1 in the 1980s to 6 to 1 today. The gap is 10 to 1 in Italy, Japan, Korea and the United Kingdom, and higher still, at 14 to 1 in Israel, Turkey and the United States. In Chile and Mexico, the incomes of the richest are still more than 25 times those of the poorest, the highest in the OECD, but have finally started dropping. Income inequality is much higher in some major emerging economies outside the OECD area. At 50 to 1, Brazil's income gap remains much higher than in many other countries, although it has been falling significantly over the past decade." To read the income inequality country note on the United States, click here. Click here to access video presentation of the OECD income inequality study.
With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful (Metropolitan Books, First Edition edition) by Glenn Greenwald, who is a constitutional law and civil rights attorney who blogs on news and politics for Salon.com. Per Wikipedia, Greenwald has written four previous books, including, How Would a Patriot Act? In 2009, he and Amy Goodman of Democracy Now won the first Izzy (I.F. Stone, the legendary independent American journalist and publisher of the iconoclastic I.F. Stone Weekly, who died in 1989) for "independent journalism for pathbreaking journalistic courage and persistence in confronting conventional wisdom, official deception and controversial issues." Greenwald's calls are unyielding, right down the middle, and neither Republican or Democratic oxes go ungored. From the Amazon.com description of the book: " ... Starting with Watergate, continuing on through the Iran-Contra scandal, and culminating with Obama's shielding of Bush-era officials from prosecution, Glenn Greenwald lays bare the mechanisms that have come to shield the elite from accountability. He shows how the media, both political parties, and the courts have abetted a process that has produced torture, war crimes, domestic spying, and financial fraud." Here is a review by Frank Pasquale of With Liberty and Justice for Some from the blog site Balkinization. (A tip of the LERA cap to Victor Forberger on the LERA-DIALOG listserve who alerted us here in the LERA home office to this book.)
The Transformation of the American Pension System: Was It Beneficial for Workers? (W.E. Upjohn Press) by Edward N. Wolff, a New York University economist. New from the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo, Mich., the short answer to the question in the title is a resounding "No." Here's the abstract from the UpJohn Press: "The share of Americans with defined-contribution pension plans now exceeds the share of those with defined benefit plans. Wolff refers to this as the 'great transformation,' and it leads him to examine recent evidence to see whether there are winners and losers resulting from this switch away from traditional pension plans." Here is the beginning of Wolff's introduction: "The last three decades have witnessed the radical transformation of the Ameican pension system ... I call attention to this change which has been occuring since the early 1980s, I report that the shared of households in the age group 47-64 with a defined contribution (DC) pension system soared from 12 percent in 1983 to 60 percent in 1998, while the share of the defined benefit plan plummeted from 69 percent to 46 percent. Subsequently ... I calculate that the share with a DC plan rose to 62 percent in 2001, while the share with a DB plan fell to 45 percent. ..." Read more>