On the Job: The Untold Story of America's Work Centers and the New Fight for Wages, Dignity, and Health

On the Job: The Untold Story of America's Work Centers and the New Fight for Wages, Dignity, and Health

by Celeste Monforton, Jane M. Von Bergen


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The inspiring story of worker centers that are cropping up across the country and leading the fight for today's workers

For over 60 million people, work in America has been a story of declining wages, insecurity, and unsafe conditions, especially amid the coronavirus epidemic. This new and troubling reality has galvanized media and policymakers, but all the while a different and little-known story of rebirth and struggle has percolated just below the surface.

On the Job is the first account of a new kind of labor movement, one that is happening locally, quietly, and among our country's most vulnerable—but essential—workers. Noted public health expert Celeste Monforton and award-winning journalist Jane M. Von Bergen crisscrossed the country, speaking with workers of all backgrounds and uncovering the stories of hundreds of new, worker-led organizations (often simply called worker centers) that have successfully achieved higher wages, safer working conditions and on-the-job dignity for their members.

On the Job describes ordinary people finding their voice and challenging power: from housekeepers in Chicago and Houston; to poultry workers in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and Springdale, Arkansas; and construction workers across the state of Texas. An inspiring book for dark times, On the Job reveals that labor activism is actually alive and growing—and holds the key to a different future for all working people.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620975015
Publisher: New Press, The
Publication date: 05/04/2021
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 730,968
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Celeste Monforton is director of the Beyond OSHA Project and lecturer at Texas State University. A sought-after national media commentator, she lives in San Marcos, Texas.
Jane M. Von Bergen is an award-winning reporter who covered labor for more than half of her thirty-five years at the Philadelphia Inquirer. She lives in Philadelphia.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Awakening the Power 3

Part I Broken Bodies, Broken Hearts

1 Danger and Disrespect 15

2 Out of Tragedy, Triumph 27

3 Body, Mind, Health 41

4 Safe Space, Open Hearts 53

5 He Couldn't Make Himself Beg 59

Part II Challenges, Tensions

6 In the Service of Power 71

7 Uneasy Tension 83

8 A Latte and a Union 90

9 "They Wanted a Revolution" 96

Part III Friends and Allies

10 Pulpits and Professors 115

11 A Time to Pray 130

12 "You Are Not Alone" 138

Part IV Workers and Washington

13 A Frustrating Friend 151

14 "They Kind of Have Us Like the Cows" 159

15 Diaper Power 176

16 Butterflies and Barbed Wire 185

Part V The Fruits of Their Labors

17 Beyond the Broom, Breaking Barriers 199

18 Temporary Job, Permanent Struggle 208

19 All Work, No Pay 219

20 The Fight Doesn't Stop Here 225

The Power Awakened 237

Acknowledgments 245

Notes 251

Index 263

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