Across the United States, growing numbers of employers are breaking, bending, or evading long-established laws and standards designed to protect workers, from the minimum wage to job safety rules to the right to organize. This “gloves-off economy,” no longer confined to a marginal set of sweatshops and fly-by-night small businesses, is sending shock waves into every corner of the low-wage — and sometimes not so low-wage — labor market. What can be done to reverse this dangerous trend?
This report, based on the book The Gloves-Off Economy: Labor Standards at the Bottom of America’s Labor Market (a Labor and Employment Relations Association volume published by Cornell University Press), provides a comprehensive yet compact summary of gloves-off practices, the workers who are affected by them, and strategies for enforcing workplace standards. The editors, four prominent labor scholars including COWS’ Associate Director Laura Dresser, have brought together economists, sociologists, labor attorneys, union strategists, and other experts to offer varying perspectives on both the problem and the creative, practical solutions currently being developed in a wide range of communities and industries. Bernhardt, Boushey, Dresser, and Tilly and the volume’s 18 other authors combine rigorous analysis with a stirring call to renew worker protections.