In this inside look at worker cooperatives, Joan Meyers challenges long-held views and beliefs. From the outside, worker cooperatives all seem to offer alternatives to bad jobs and unequal treatment by giving workers democratic control and equitable ownership of their workplaces. Some contend, however, that such egalitarianism and self-management come at the cost of efficiency and stability, and are impractical in the long run. Working Democracies focuses on two worker cooperatives in business since the 1970s that transformed from small countercultural collectives into thriving multiracial and largely working-class firms. She shows how democratic worker ownership can provide stability and effective business management, but also shows that broad equality is not an inevitable outcome despite the best intentions of cooperative members.
Working Democracies explores the interconnections between organizational structure and organizational culture under conditions of worker control, revealing not only the different effects of managerialism and "participatory bureaucracy," but also how each bureaucratic variation is facilitated by how workers are defined by at each cooperative. Both bureaucratic variation and worker meanings are, she shows, are consequential for the reduction or reproduction of class, gender, and ethnoracial inequalities. Offering a behind the scenes comparative look at an often invisible type of workplace, Working Democracies serves as a guidebook for the future of worker cooperatives. [from publisher web site]
Current Cornell students, faculty and staff can also access the ebook version.
The Great Stewardess Rebellion: How Women Launched a Workplace Rebellion at 30,000 Feet (June, 2022)
It was the Golden Age of Travel, and everyone wanted in. As flying boomed in the 1960s, women from across the United States applied for jobs as stewardesses. They were drawn to the promise of glamorous jet-setting, the chance to see the world, and an alternative to traditional occupations like homemaking, nursing, and teaching.
But as the number of “stews” grew, so did their suspicion that the job was not as picture-perfect as the ads would have them believe. “Sky girls” had to adhere to strict weight limits at all times; gain a few extra pounds and they’d be suspended from work. They couldn’t marry or have children; their makeup, hair, and teeth had to be just so. Girdles were mandatory while stewardesses were on the clock. And, most important, stewardesses had to resign at 32.
Eventually the stewardesses began to push back and it’s thanks to their trailblazing efforts in part that working women have gotten closer to workplace equality today. Nell McShane Wulfhart crafts a rousing narrative of female empowerment, the paradigm-shifting ’60s and ’70s, the labor movement, and the cadre of gutsy women who fought for their rights—and won. [from publisher web site]
When we think of leaders, we often imagine lone, inspirational figures lauded for their behaviors, attributes, and personal decisions—a perception that is reinforced by many leadership books. However, this approach ignores the expectations of modern work cultures centered on equity and inclusion, where a leader’s true mission is to empower others. Applying decades of behavioral science research, Don A. Moore and Max H. Bazerman offer a passionate corrective to this view, casting today’s organizations as decision factories in which effective leaders are decision architects, enabling those around them to make wise, ethical choices consistent with their own interests and the organization’s highest values. As a result, a leader’s impact grows because it ripples out instead of relying on one individual to play the part of heroic figure.
Filled with real-life stories and examples of the structures, incentives, and systems that successful leaders have used, this playbook equips each of us to facilitate wise decisions. [from publisher web site]
On March 25, 1911, a fire broke out on the eighth floor of the Asch Building in Greenwich Village, New York. The top three floors housed the Triangle Waist Company, a factory where approximately 500 workers, mostly young immigrant women and girls, labored to produce fashionable cotton blouses, known as “waists.”
The fire killed 146 workers in a mere 15 minutes but pierced the perpetual conscience of citizens everywhere. The Asch Building had been considered a modern fireproof structure, but inadequate fire safety regulations left the workers inside unprotected. The tragedy of the fire, and the resulting movements for change, were pivotal in shaping workers' rights and unions.
A powerful collection of diverse voices, Talking to the Girls: Intimate and Political Essays on the Triangle Fire brings together stories from writers, artists, activists, scholars, and family members of the Triangle workers. Nineteen contributors from across the globe speak of a singular event with remarkable impact. One hundred and eleven years after the tragic incident, Talking to the Girls articulates a story of contemporary global relevance and stands as an act of collective testimony: a written memorial to the Triangle victims. [from publisher web site]
In this panoramic social history, Sofi Thanhauser brilliantly tells five stories—Linen, Cotton, Silk, Synthetics, Wool—about the clothes we wear and where they come from, illuminating our world in unexpected ways. She takes us from the opulent court of Louis XIV to the labor camps in modern-day Chinese-occupied Xinjiang. We see how textiles were once dyed with lichen, shells, bark, saffron, and beetles, displaying distinctive regional weaves and knits, and how the modern Western garment industry has refashioned our attire into the homogenous and disposable uniforms popularized by fast-fashion brands.
Thanhauser makes clear how the clothing industry has become one of the planet’s worst polluters and how it relies on chronically underpaid and exploited laborers. But she also shows us how micro-communities, textile companies, and clothing makers in every corner of the world are rediscovering ancestral and ethical methods for making what we wear.
Drawn from years of intensive research and reporting from around the world, and brimming with fascinating stories, Worn reveals to us that our clothing comes not just from the countries listed on the tags or ready-made from our factories. It comes, as well, from deep in our histories. [from publisher web site]
Building on findings from the multiyear MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future, the book argues that we must foster institutional innovations that complement technological change. Skills programs that emphasize work-based and hybrid learning (in person and online), for example, empower workers to become and remain productive in a continuously evolving workplace. Industries fueled by new technology that augments workers can supply good jobs, and federal investment in R&D can help make these industries worker-friendly. We must act to ensure that the labor market of the future offers benefits, opportunity, and a measure of economic security to all.. [from publisher web site]
Through unique access to construction sites in Doha, in-depth research, and interviews, Iskander explores how migrants are recruited, trained, and used. Despite their acquisition of advanced technical skills, workers are commonly described as unskilled and disparaged as “unproductive,” “poor quality,” or simply “bodies.” She demonstrates that skill categories adjudicate personhood, creating hierarchies that shape working conditions, labor recruitment, migration policy, the design of urban spaces, and the reach of global industries. Iskander also discusses how skill distinctions define industry responses to global warming, with employers recruiting migrants from climate-damaged places at lower wages and exposing these workers to Qatar’s extreme heat. She considers how the dehumanizing politics of skill might be undone through tactical solidarity and creative practices.
With implications for immigrant rights and migrant working conditions throughout the world, Does Skill Make Us Human? examines the factors that justify and amplify inequality. [from publisher web site]