Brand : Jill Andresky Fraser

White-Collar Sweatshop: The Deterioration of Work and Its Rewards in Corporate America

Peter cassimatis, retired professor of economis. |

The dark side of the new economy

Since thorstein veblen's "the theory of the leisure class", social scientists and journalists have tried to explain the impact of industrialization on workers, managers and executives. in the l950s, c.w. mills in "white collar: the new middle class", w.h. white in "the organization man", and w. harrington in the "life in the chrystal palace" set the stage for other writers to address the rise and fall of workers in the united states. in this book, jill andresky fraser describes brilliantry the current status of middle class americans in the new economy. her book is in sharp contrast to david brooks' "bobos in paradise" which satirizes the life of the upper middle class. fraser presents a stark picture of the life of those who constitute the "white collar class" but do not enjoy the high salaries and perks of the bobos. while family incomes of the middle class barely increased in purchasing power in the last decade, the incomes of the upper middle class and the wealthy more than doubled. at the same time, benefits have declined and in some cases eliminated for white collar workers. another paradox of the new economy is that digital technology not only eliminates stable traditional jobs but it also increases the hours of work of those who are forced to use it. these and other changes in the workplace have created a climate of insecurity and intensified competition among white-collar workers, while corporations reap the benefits of higher productivity and profits reminiscent of the sweatshops of early twenty century. the book concludes with some interesting suggestions that would eliminate white-collar sweatshops. however, i do not believe that will happen without government legislation and revitalization of labor unions.

Amazon customer |

Sweat soaked white-collars

How many people working in information technology and financial services (to name just two of the shiny sectors of the new economy) realize that a cruel economic trick has been played on them. there have been many analyses of american economic growth, industrialization, and the changing nature of work done in the past, but white collar sweatshop struck me with one telling statistic: white-collar men earned an average of $19.24 an hour in 1997, barely a nickel more than the previous generation did in 1973. add to this declining perks, specifically medical and pension benefits along with increasing work hours. the author highlights a trend which she calls "job spill", as a pernicious recent trend in today's white-collar working world. basically it is the encroachment of work into lunch, vacation, and family time through technology creating a permanent umbilical cord with the workplace. insightful and illuminating with some interesting proposals for remedying the white-collar working environment. this book made quite an impression on me as i had just recently read barbara ehrenreich's nickel and dimed. that book showed up the grimness of blue-collar work. now with this book add the millions of white-collar workers and we see a situation where - although gainfully employed and all would agree, pleased with the opportunity to be working - there is nevertheless a deep sense of dissatisfaction with the work environment. there is an awareness of a large and growing base of a pyramid with only a few at the top really benefiting. as one reviewer has already mentioned bobos in paradise is what to read for a satirical view from the top.

Roger e. herman |

Compelling, thought-provoking, unsettling

The author of this book is a professional journalist, with experience covering business for the new york times, the new york observer, and forbes. she's served as an editor for inc. magazine and bloomberg personal finance. she knows how to write in a style that grabs and holds a reader's attention. i went straight through cover-to-cover with this book, turning pages and turning down pages. after several years of research, this book was assembled to tell the story of the nightmare that has been the life of the white collar worker in america in recent decades. using an enticing mixture of facts and figures and real-life stories collected from people in the trenches, fraser documents a story that cries for exposure. white collar employees from large companies will recognize-painfully-the picture that's painted, with personal histories and company names and practices illuminating the text. page after page reveals the details of an embarrassingly destructive period in our country's corporate history. sadly, the story continues, with complications and far-reaching implications, far beyond what's presented in white collar sweatshop. you'll experience a wide range of emotions as you move through this factual report. those emotions will range from pity to sympathy, from empathy to rage. using the internet, fraser found a wide range of people to open their hearts, share their experiences, and expose the questionable, unfeeling, almost inhumane acts of corporate executives. you'll read about people who invested their lives, at the expense of their families and themselves, to help build companies that later chewed them up and spit them out. the research for this book was conducted during the late 1990s and into 2000. these were the years of the hot economy where opportunities to change jobs were plentiful. many of the people who worked for large corporations, where this book is centered, did not leave for greener pastures; they were trapped in a never-ending cycle of working, working, working for companies-emotional and professional handcuffs that held them in a no-alternatives, no-win rut. since this book was written, the economy has shifted. during the slowdown of 2000-2002, employers became even more ruthless. with fewer jobs to jump to, workers had their escape routes blocked. the current reality is probably even worse than the deterioration described in fraser's documentary. as the economy picks up, we'll see some cataclysmic changes in the relationship between employers and employees. the historical period recorded in this book will be a foundation for a major upheaval. to understand what's coming, read this book to understand what's happened. special note to senior corporate executives: if you want to attract, inspire, and optimize top talent, read this book to comprehend how your employees feel. even if you're not the size of the major companies cited in the case histories, know that your future or even current employees-directly or indirectly-are influenced by the experiences described. this book will be a catalyst for change if corporate leaders apply the knowledge they'll gain to assure that sweatshop practices are terminated. extra benefits: strong notes section with a number of valuable book references, as well as a comprehensive index.