Worker’s real wages in the Western world have been largely
stagnating or declining since the 1970’s. People are either underemployed or
working longer and harder (often at multiple McJobs) for less. Simultaneously,
unions have been subjected to an unrelenting assault by neoliberal
governments. Even lower and middle
management jobs have been deteriorating as upper management and corporate
shareholders reap more of the rewards in a globalized economy. Employees are
exhorted to be ever more dedicated to their jobs even as those jobs provide
fewer benefits or less financial security. In Alberta the oil boom has led to
increased demand for workers but most employees find their wages barely keeping
up to inflated housing and rental costs. Each year during the week leading up
to May 1 The Edmonton District Labour Council www.edlc.ca sponsors
a series of Mayweek labour-related events www.mayweek.ab.ca
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich (2001) Undercover look at the absurdity of trying to survive in America while working poverty-waged jobs.
White-Collar Sweatshop: The Deterioration of Work and its Rewards in Corporate America by Jill Andresky Fraser (2001) Fascinating account of how under neoliberalism even formerly coveted white collar jobs are becoming less and less desirable.
Take Back Your Time: Fighting Overwork and Time Poverty in America edited by John De Graaf (2003) Wide-ranging series of essays on the philosophical basis of work, the economy, capitalism, and inequality.
The European Dream: How Europe’s Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream by Jeremy Rifkin (2004) Excellent history of the origins and development of the American dream and the new European alternative. Academically oriented.
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