Workers’ rights sacrificed “At the Altar of the Bottom Line”

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At the Altar of the Bottom Line book cover imageStressed. Exhausted. Exploited. Abandoned. In a new book, Tom Juravich exposes and examines the degradation of work in the United States today. At the Altar of the Bottom Line, based on in-depth interviews with workers, lifts up the experiences of working people from diverse sectors of our economy.

Juravich, a writer, researcher, and professor at the University of Massachusetts Labor Center, spent six years interviewing workers in four different occupations:

  • Workers at a Verizon call center faced degradingly rigid work days, forced to raise their hands to go to the bathroom, work mandatory overtime, and push sales over real customer service.
  • Undocumented Guatemalan workers at the fish houses in New Bedford experienced shocking work conditions and exploitation—even before a massive raid by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) undermined workers rights and human dignity.
  • Operating room nurses at Boston Medical Center worked nonstop, with inadequate staffing levels driving them to exhaustion and jeopardizing their health.
  • Workers who made machinery for the paper industry at the Jones Beloit plant in Dalton, Massachusetts found their plant abruptly closed after years of dedicated work.

Work in American is deteriorating very quickly, Juravich says. “The interviews were so compelling,” he recalls, “in some ways the hardest thing I had to do is call it quits.”

Juravich is also an accomplished singer and songwriter: an album inspired by the interviews he conducted is included with the book.

» Listen to Tom Juravich on Public Radio’s “Here and Now”
» Buy the book

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 11th, 2010 at 10:25 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Workers’ rights sacrificed “At the Altar of the Bottom Line””

  1. emily says:

    My company has made my white collar job into a sweat shop. They only care about how many cases I do per hour. Each week my boss sends me my “number”. If I fall behind, she can begin disciplinary procedures. I work for a Fortune 100 company that is making record profits but we haven’t had a raise in three years. Every minute of my day has to be counted for in a chart I prepare on Friday. Plus we have quality goals. Fifteen letters are scrutinized each month (I write hundreds). I have to have 99% quality. If my company could find a way for its employees to pay them to work there, they would. Pretty soon, they’ll be rolling out catheters so we don’t use the rest rooms. White collar, educated workers are becoming the new working poor. And we’re losing our health as well under the stress and regime of intimidaiton.

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