Why, in the world's most affluent nation, are so many corporations squeezing their employees dry? In this fresh, carefully researched book, New York Times reporter Steven Greenhouse explores the economic, political, and social trends that are transforming America's workplaces, including the decline of the social contract that created the world's largest middle class and guaranteed job security and good pensions. We meet all kinds of workers—white-collar and blue-collar, high-tech and low-tech, middle-class and low-income—as we see shocking examples of injustice, including employees who are locked in during a hurricane or fired after suffering debilitating, on-the-job injuries.
With pragmatic recommendations on what government, business and labor should do to alleviate the economic crunch, The Big Squeeze is a balanced, consistently revealing look at a major American crisis.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: The Big Squeeze|
|Release Date: 04-15-2008|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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The Big Squeeze
Worked Over and Overworked
In his job at a Wal-Mart in Texas, Mike Michell was responsible for catching shoplifters, and he was good at it, too, catching 180 in one two-year period. But one afternoon things went wildly awry when he chased a thief—a woman using stolen checks—into the parking lot. She jumped into her car, and her accomplice gunned the accelerator, slamming the car into Michell and sending him to the hospital with a broken kneecap, a badly torn shoulder, and two herniated disks. Michell was so devoted to Wal-Mart that he somehow returned to work the next day, but a few weeks later he told his boss that he needed surgery on his knee. He was fired soon afterward, apparently as part of a strategy to dismiss workers whose injuries run up Wal-Mart’s workers’ comp bills.
Immediately after serving in the army, Dawn Eubanks took a seven-dollar-an-hour job at a call center in Florida. Some days she was told to clock in just two or three hours, and some days she was not allowed to clock in during her whole eight-hour shift. The call center’s managers warned the workers that if they went home, even though they weren’t allowed to clock in, they would be viewed as having quit.
Twenty-eight-year-old John Arnold works in the same Caterpillar factory in Illinois as his father, but under the plant’s two-tier contract, the maximum he can ever earn is $14.90 an hour, far less than the $25 earned by his father. Caterpillar, long a symbol of America’s industrial might, insists that it needs a lower wage tier to remain competitive. “A few people I work with are living at