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The Big Squeeze

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  163 ratings  ·  38 reviews
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 gu ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published April 15th 2008 by Anchor (first published January 1st 2008)
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Nov 29, 2008 Anzelom is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in Labor issues.
Recommended to Anzelom by: the author.
I now read books mostly about unions. I went to a conference at Hofstra U. a week or so ago on Labor Studies, and I met the author there who signed my copy of his book.

Great book on understanding how the Labor Party in the USA and throughout the world has had its power gradually eroded by giant, American, mult-national corporations!

Nothing new there but fascinating reading in terms of knowing just how (in detail) this is done to workers.

I especially enjoyed the chapter on Walmart!

They still lock
Yeah I didn't get far with this one. So some New York Times writer with an Ivy League degree singles out the most down-and-out American workers and then writes a book saying this is how the entire American economic landscape looks like? There are definitely flaws in the way things are now, but maybe instead of some naive journalist offering some pat solutions toward the end of a biased book, he or she should visit countries where some of those solutions are in effect. Though he or she would prob ...more
Steven Greenhouse is the labor reporter for the New York Times. There was a time when every paper had someone assigned to the labor beat but with the demise of labor unions, the vast increase in interest of covering business and investing, and the general erosion of reporters, labor has been a neglected area. There are only about 5 or 6 reporters in the entire country who cover labor. Greenhouse is terrific.

The big Squeeze is a little like the book Nickel and Dimed with first hand accounts of co
A shocking tour of America's punishing world of work—and a call for a return to fairness and decency.

Times are tough and getting tougher for the American worker. It used to be that for an honest day's work you'd get a decent day's pay, a deal that in the three decades after World War II made America's middle class the most dynamic and prosperous in the world. But no longer. As Steven Greenhouse shows in this illuminating and often moving survey of the American workplace, in recent years wages ha
Mainly interviews but some useful data also. Written from a mainstream liberal point of view, and this is where some of my criticisms come in. at the end his solutions are only in terms of legislation or what political leaders can do, no emphasis on worker organizing or actions. the author is the labor reporter for the New York Times.

his solution for the inadequacies of the labor movement is to simply have the state regulate them even more closely...which means he's completely missed the ways th
We have entered a new phase in the American Working Life in which profits are increased at the expense of the workers who help produce those profits. Unions (one of the few tools available to working people to improve their lot) are being dismantled through both legal and illegal means by corporations (WalMart has a rapid response team available to nip union activity in the bud). Corporations wield enormous influence in the government and that trend continues to increase. Companies depend on ill ...more
I only rated this two stars, but it is not because it is a "bad" book. The rating is because this is an extremely depressing book. If you are a worker, you already know how bad you have it (unless you are one of those jingoistic workers who vote for right wingers even when it is against your interests). Greenhouse does two main things in this book. One, he has put together an extensive collection of stories from workers who have been exploited and screwed by their companies. And I do not mean ju ...more
I read this book for a discussion group at work, and I have to admit I wasn't too psyched to read it. I was afraid it would be another diatribe against Wal-Mart, and while I agree that Wal-Mart's labor practices are deplorable, I didn't feel the need to read another critique of them. But I was pleasantly surprised that the author went far beyond Wal-Mart to show that there are serious labor issues across multiple sectors and multiple levels of jobs. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that i ...more
Jkimballcook Cook
This book is about what is wrong with the American workplace and it ought to be required reading for anyone in the employment law, management, or human resources fields.

It has the tone of a NYT journalist: a tone that is scrupulous about facts and statistics, but that is not above using a shocking anecdote to really punch at the gut and drive the point home. This can be an effective device, but in this book, its repeated so often that the heroes and villains become stock characters, their strug
Jennifer Arnold
If you're already seriously peeved at Wall Street (and, unless Warren Buffett is actually reading this, I imagine you are), Greenhouse's book isn't going to make you feel any better. His stories of American workers are by turns infuriating and depressing - rampant minimum wage abuses, tampering with hours to avoid overtime, harrassment, abuse, and threats. The most heartbreaking are the stories of workers who give everything to their jobs to support their families, only to be heartlessly layed o ...more
I think this book is a good overview of what's happening in our country, particulary to workers. It has the usual Wal-Mart is evil stuff (plus a bunch of other companies). He gave a lot of information and statistics about what workers are experiencing, from layoffs, low wages, workplace fraud, to expensive costs for higher education and health care. He also highlights some companies that are doing it right and pointed out that economically they're not worse off. Greenhouse also discussed the his ...more
Nov 30, 2008 Kate rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has a job or knows folks who do
A scathing rundown of trends that affect workers, including unionbusting, decline in real wages, and twentysomethings on track to do worse than their parents, illustrated with in-depth profiles. Some of Greenhouse's prescriptions for change are predictably idealistic ("change the national conversation about workers") but I especially liked his detailed suggestions around retirement security. While the nasty things corporations do to their workers get plenty of airtime, profiles of companies who ...more
Jun 15, 2008 Jason rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
It's an amazing book. It really made me angrier than usual when you see how every American and immigrant worker (legal or undocumented) in America is treated. I start to wonder what would happen if say a company in a country in Europe (with universal healthcare) were to start seeing how valuable the American workforce could be and started to import some of it's workers. Which would hopefully lead to more people leaving.

I mean they should seriously think about it. Why should we be loyal to a coun
Excellent, if dismaying, portrait of the fate of American workers under the country's transition to a service-job economy driven by the forces of investor capitalism. (This book originally came out at the end of 2008, so it would be instructive to see how much labor-progress has been made since then.)
Another book I was required to read for my college course (2015). Found this book could hold my attention for longer periods of time, unlike some of the other books we read. Had easier vocab than the others as well, so you don't need to have a whole lot of background information on the subject to read.
American Workers on Life Support

A perfect storm is battering the American worker. Blue-collar and white-collar jobs are moving overseas while America’s economy lags and its immigrant population expands. Given the quality of this report, getAbstract surmises that few individuals are more suited to address this precarious situation than Steven Greenhouse, who has covered workplace issues for The New York Times since 1995. Writing with clarity and simplicity, Greenhouse illustrates the plight of t
Very depressing. A good look at the way corporations treat workers... A lot of the "good" jobs have left the country and the ones that are left are very low paying. Lots of individual stories about how companies are squeezing our workers. Also explores how immigrants are working a lot of the jobs we stil have left over here, working at jobs that American workers don't seem to want to do. A good read!
really angrifying goal was to just read the how did we get here and corporate layoff sections but the other chapters keep drawing me in w/all the scrappy / plucky / intrepid blue collar souls who march to the beat of their own drums.

lots of wal-mart mentions in here...not sure why i'm surprised

minus 1 star for the extreme overuse of the adjective Dickensian. What does that mean?
Get out your jumbo markers and start working on your protest sign, because this book will fire you up to just the perfect combination of anger/vindication. It's like Fast Food Nation and Michael Moore's "Sicko" combined, but for all of us overworked zombie yes men/women, who are so tired by the end of the day that it's hard to even realize what's wrong with the system that makes us feel this way.
Disturbing stuff. Presents a well-researched indictment against big businesses who funnel more and more money to their shareholders at the expense of the common worker who is barely scraping by even while working more and more hours and doing more and more tasks. The corporate greed exposed here is appalling. Hello Wal-Mart, which is one reason I absolutely REFUSE to shop there.
this is an excellent survey on the causes and consequences of the us labor movement's decline. lots of harrowing personal stories punctuate an in-depth analysis of the global corporate practices of downsizing, outsourcing, and union-busting. a good primer for deeper study into labor in the age of the neoliberal state, unregulated markets, and persistent financial crises.
Greenhouse does a particularly good job of blending numbers and anecdotes in this story about how workers in America from housekeepers to upper management are getting squeezed in the perpetual quest for shareholder return. It gets a little thick in parts, but is well-worth the read in the next year or two. I found it a great follow-up to Thomas Friedman.
This is an important book that government officials need to read and for consumers to read. The book focuses mostly on retailers (Wal Mart is mentioned). I couldn't believe that I was reading something that can happen in the U.S. Inhuman is not even a strong adjective to describe the companies who dare to act this way towards its employees.
For folks who pay close attention to the state of American labor and the labor movement, almost everything that this book covers is not new. But it's a very thorough overview of the problems facing American workers today. It would make a great textbook for an entry-level undergraduate course on work in the U.S.
Mark Fuller
This was a great book. It points out the problems that American workers face. It also highlighted some employers who were doing it right and profiting from it. Once you get started with this book, you won't be able to put it down. It is a real page turner. As I read it, I found myself wishing it was fiction.
Strongly recommended for anyone interested in labor history or the state of unions in America today. Absolutely infuriating. Greenhouse has a good mix of statistics, history, economics, and anecdotes to keep your interest through a very hefty book.
This is a great book, and a frightening truth that we have all known but never took the time to trace is through history. Greeenhouse synthesizes decades of information into an alarming tale of the decline of the American worker
An excellent review and analysis of our current economic situation; mixes heart-breaking stories of workers and the adversity they face with statistics and analysis that helps reveal the big picture.
There's a lot of information in The Big Squeeze, but it's not written in what I would call a popular style ... case studies are interesting, but the only "conclusions" are in copious footnotes.
Jul 04, 2008 Tharmas rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: jon
Recommended to Tharmas by: Pelham Democratic club
Good reporting on the connection between a harsher world of work and Wall Street & globalization. Terkel or Ehrenreich with a necktie. Don't read at bedtime, it will make you mad.
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