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Books that Shaped Work in America

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Title    Author    Year    Contributors

What Others are Saying

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

Author: Barbara Ehrenreich

Year Published: 2001

What Others are Saying:

  • It gives one perspective for those working class Americans who "get by" on minimum (and sometimes less than minimum) wage. This is an "undercover" account but well worth the read. If you have no perspective on this plight, you will by the time you finish reading it.
  • Shows the real hardworking life of modern Americans, and the way that they are treated by different companies, vis-a-vis important benefits, full-time employment, etc.
  • Because this is the way More Americans are living than not due to a lack of a true living wage in the US.
  • Investigates the effect of the 1996 welfare reform act. The book stirred controversy and remains on several high school summer reading lists throughout the country.  I firmly believe that it should be read by every high school student in America.
  • Ehrenreich does an incredible job of showing how work has become less valued in our society, especially looking at the service sector.  The book offered a glimpse into the world of low wage work on par with some of the other greats including Upton Sinclair.
  • A powerful expose of the world of low wage workers, perhaps even more powerful, given the widening gap between the haves and have nots.
  • Stark description of how hard it is to get by in the U.S. when working (hard!) at a low-wage job.
  • It discusses the plight of the underpaid working poor in America.
  • Most low-wage workers, recipients of government or charitable services like welfare, food, and health care, are not simply living off the generosity of others. Actually we live off their generosity: when they work for less pay than they can live on ... she has made a great sacrifice for you .... The "working poor" ... are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone. (p. 221)
  • Still the best book on our increasing low-wage reality. Moving, accessible and funny. A great book
  • Exploring the challenges that low wage workers experience, and the high cost of a very minimalist life in the United States, Ehreinreich brought renewed attention and examination of the "unskilled labor" who does much of the day to day work in many communities, barely eking out an acceptable living. The welfare reform act had passed just a few years prior, and the author's work as a journalist allowed her to live and report on her attempts to make this lifestyle work.
  • This is the story of "slave labor" that makes companies like Maids successful, at the cost of of health and safety to the stressed workers. The author worked undercover in numerous minimum wage jobs in order to report on them..

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