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White-Collar Sweatshop: The Deterioration of Work and Its Rewards in Corporate America Paperback – June 17, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Financial journalist Fraser fingers the "merger frenzy," ushered in by federal and state regulatory changes, for the layoffs, longer work days, shrinking benefits packages and the rise of contingency workforces that have beset white-collar workers since the early 1980s. As soon as hostile takeovers, leveraged buyouts and corporate bustups dominated the landscape, financial goals took priority over all other business considerations, making cost cutting, layoffs and benefit reductions the order of the day. The single-minded pursuit of these strategies, Fraser opines, has gradually transformed the paternalistic workplace familiar to white-collar workers circa 1979 into our present Darwinian arena, which Fraser characterizes as a sweatshop. Through interviews with white-collar workers and references to various studies, she charts adverse trends for workers in such industries as banking, communications and high technology. In her attempt to put a human face on the impact of these changes, each page is strewn with generic quotes about uncaring management and pervasive stress that portray workers as powerless before their employers ("There's something so unfair about all this"; "the company's attitude is, This is the way of the world. If you don't like it, go somewhere else"). Considering her stark portrait of bitter and forlorn white-collar workers, Fraser's proposed remedy sounds both hollow and nave, as she calls for workers to restore balance in the workplace by lobbying for reduced workweeks, reasonable productivity goals and limits on the use of contingent labor. Agent, Sloan Harris, ICM.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Why amid record levels of employment and a booming economy, asks Fraser, are so many people unhappy? Fraser is currently the financial editor at Inc. magazine. She has documented workplace dissatisfaction over the last four years and comes to the conclusion that today's white-collar worker faces an "epidemic" of overwork and stress, has no time for family or personal interests, lacks long-term financial security, and suffers uncertainty wrought by corporate and technological change. Although Scott Adams has made light of these problems with his Dilbert cartoon strip, he has also given them validity. At the same time, though, others have suggested that these complaints are simply selfish whining. Certainly, Fraser's "sweatshop" is hyperbole, but she does offer a justifying explanation. Regardless, the sheer number of people--across a wide range of industries--eager to tell their tales of woe indicates something is amiss. Fraser interweaves these stories with supporting data and research to document disconcerting levels of malaise in the workplace. David Rouse
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.