L.A. Story shatters many of the myths about modern labor with a close look at workers in four industries in Los Angeles: building maintenance, trucking, construction, and garment production.
This book offers a comprehensive collection of case studies of experiments in organizing New York City's huge low-wage workforce--the majority of them immigrants and many of these undocumented.
New York City boasts a higher rate of unionization than any other major U.S. city--roughly double the national average--but the city's unions have suffered steady and relentless decline, especially in the private sector. With higher levels of income inequality than any other large city in the nation, New York today is home to a large and growing "precariat": workers with little or no employment security who are often excluded from the basic legal protections that unions struggled for and won in the twentieth century. Community-based organizations and worker centers have developed the most promising approach to organizing the new precariat and to addressing the crisis facing the labor movement. Home to some of the nation's very first worker centers, New York City today has the single largest concentration of these organizations in the United States, yet until now no one has documented their efforts. New Labor in New York includes thirteen fine-grained case studies of recent campaigns by worker centers and unions, each of which is based on original research and participant observation. Some of the campaigns documented here involve taxi drivers, street vendors, and domestic workers, as well as middle-strata freelancers, all of whom are excluded from basic employment laws. Other cases focus on supermarket, retail, and restaurant workers, who are nominally covered by such laws but who often experience wage theft and other legal violations; still other campaigns are not restricted to a single occupation or industry. This book offers a richly detailed portrait of the new labor movement in New York City, as well as several recent efforts to expand that movement from the local to the national scale. Contributors: Benjamin Becker, CUNY Graduate Center; Marnie Brady, CUNY Graduate Center; Jeffrey D. Broxmeyer; CUNY Graduate Center; Kathleen Dunn; Loyola University; United Food and Commercial Workers Local 2013; Harmony Goldberg; CUNY Graduate Center; Peter Ikeler, SUNY College at Old Westbury; Martha W. King, CUNY Graduate Center; Jane McAlevey, CUNY Graduate Center; CUNY Graduate Center; Susan McQuade, CUNY Graduate Center and New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health; Erin Michaels, CUNY Graduate Center; Ruth Milkman, CUNY Graduate Center and Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, CUNY School of Professional Studies; Ed Ott, Murphy Institute, CUNY School of Professional Studies; Ben Shapiro, New York Communities for Change; Lynne Turner, Murphy Institute, CUNY School of Professional Studies.
Unfinished Business documents the history and impact of California's paid family leave program, the first of its kind in the United States, which began in 2004. Drawing on original data from fieldwork and surveys of employers, workers, and the larger California adult population, Ruth Milkman and Eileen Appelbaum analyze in detail the effect of the state's landmark paid family leave on employers and workers. They also explore the implications of California's decade-long experience with paid family leave for the nation, which is engaged in ongoing debate about work-family policies. Milkman and Appelbaum recount the process by which California workers and their allies built a coalition to win passage of paid family leave in the state legislature, and lay out the lessons for advocates in other states and localities, as well as the nation. Because paid leave enjoys extensive popular support across the political spectrum, campaigns for such laws have an excellent chance of success if some basic preconditions are met. Do paid family leave and similar programs impose significant costs and burdens on employers? Business interests argue that they do and routinely oppose any and all legislative initiatives in this area. Once the program took effect in California, this book shows, large majorities of employers themselves reported that its impact on productivity, profitability, and performance was negligible or positive. Unfinished Business demonstrates that the California program is well managed and easy to access, but that awareness of its existence remains limited. Moreover, those who need the program's benefits most urgently--low-wage workers, young workers, immigrants, and disadvantaged minorities--are least likely to know about it. As a result, the long-standing pattern of inequality in access to paid leave has remained largely intact.
Working for Justice, which includes eleven case studies of recent low-wage worker organizing campaigns in Los Angeles, makes the case for a distinctive "L. A. Model" of union and worker center organizing. Networks linking advocates in worker centers and labor unions facilitate mutual learning and synergy and have generated a shared repertoire of economic justice strategies. The organized labor movement in Los Angeles has weathered the effects of deindustrialization and deregulation better than unions in other parts of the United States, and this has helped to anchor the city's wider low-wage worker movement. Los Angeles is also home to the nation's highest concentration of undocumented immigrants, making it especially fertile territory for low-wage worker organizing. The case studies in Working for Justice are all based on original field research on organizing campaigns among L. A. day laborers, garment workers, car wash workers, security officers, janitors, taxi drivers, hotel workers as well as the efforts of ethnically focused worker centers and immigrant rights organizations. The authors interviewed key organizers, gained access to primary documents, and conducted participant observation. Working for Justice is a valuable resource for sociologists and other scholars in the interdisciplinary field of labor studies, as well as for advocates and policymakers.
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