Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Rick Wartzman

Rick Wartzman's new book is The End of Loyalty: The Rise and Fall of Good Jobs in America.

From the transcript of his Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross:

GROSS: You know, we were talking earlier about unions and how early on, like, Kodak didn't unionize because the workers felt that the benefits at Kodak were good enough. Kodak tried to be on its own competitive with unions. How has the union situation in the four companies you profile changed in the past few years? Like, what is the importance of unions in those organizations now, and how powerful are they compared to the power they had in the past?

WARTZMAN: Well, in terms of how much - how powerful they are, they're a shadow of themselves. But you know, now the auto workers - you know, after the bankruptcy, there have been some gains restored. But you know, they had to go to a two-tier wage structure where even unionized employees coming into General Motors were starting at much lower wages. And suddenly auto workers were facing something they never did before. Again, this used to be a path to a really solid middle-class life. And now even auto workers, you know, are struggling to get by.

At other companies like General Electric, unions just have - you know, they're still there, and - but they've become much less a presence as the company has shifted into this kind of new economy and digital economy. And there are just fewer and fewer union jobs at a company like that. And that is reflective of what's happening across America. We're now at a point where fewer than 7 percent of private sector workers are unionized in this country. And it's just clearly not enough to have the kind of collective voice and countervailing power against corporate power that, again, was able to lift wages and benefits for all folks, not only those carrying union cards but other blue-collar workers and even white-collar workers in the past.

GROSS: What do you see as one of the big turning points in the weakening of unions?

WARTZMAN: Well, there were a couple of things going on. Unions definitely...[read on]
The Page 99 Test: Rick Wartzman's Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath.

--Marshal Zeringue