RSF grantee and visiting researcher Steven Greenhouse has published a new book, Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor (Penguin Random House). Greenhouse received a Presidential Authority grant from the Russell Sage Foundation in 2015 to support the development of this book. A former New York Times labor reporter, Greenhouse was a visiting researcher at RSF during the 2015-2016 academic year, when he undertook key writing and research related to the book.
Greenhouse’s book examines four broad issues affecting the labor market: 1) the state of the American worker; 2) the rise and decline of labor unions and what the effects are for the nation’s workers, economy and politics; 3) the rise of alternative, non-union worker advocacy groups; and 4) recommendations on what strategies and models might be pursued to improve the labor market outcome of workers. The New York Times recently published Greenhouse’s op-ed – based largely on findings from his book – about the exceptional nature of American anti-worker sentiment and policies; in it he cites the lack of national maternity leave policies, the absence of federally mandated paid sick leave and paid vacation, a low minimum wage, and the declining power of labor unions.
Greenhouse’s book is a timely and important read for anyone interested in better understanding the complex nature of life for the contemporary American worker. Katrina vanden Heuvel, editorial director and publisher of The Nation, writes of Beaten Down, Worked Up: “A timely and important book that explores how labor unions and worker power have made the U.S. a fairer, more democratic country. In these times of renewed labor insurgency, Steven Greenhouse’s riveting reporting and storytelling reminds a new generation why workers’ and unions’ concerns must be restored to the center of our politics and workplaces.” The book has also received advance praise from Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, and Nicholas Kristof.