In Love the Work, Hate the Job, author David Kusnet follows workers through four conflicts in the trailblazing city of Seattle. At Boeing, aircraft engineers and technicians conducted the longest and largest strike by professionals in private industry in U.S. history, but their picket signs said they were "On Strike for Boeing." At Microsoft, thousands of workers holding short-term positions founded their own Web site to protest being "perma-temps." Still, they were almost as upset about their problems testing software as they were about their own precarious prospects. At a local hospital, workers complained that patient care was getting short shrift and organized with the nation's fastest-growing union. And at Kaiser Aluminum, during a labor-management conflict that dragged on for two years, workers allied themselves with environmentalists to fight cutthroat corporate tactics. Like their counterparts across the country, these workers cared about much more than money. Americans increasingly like the work they do but not the conditions under which they do it. In fact, a growing number of employees believe they care more about the quality of their products and services than the executives they work for. That's why the workplace conflicts of the future will focus on model employees who were forced to become malcontents because they "care enough to get mad." Coming in the aftermath of the mass protests at the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle in 1999, these conflicts point out the paradox of globalization. U.S. companies can compete most successfully by improving quality instead of just cutting costs. But penny-pinching practices can prevent their best workers from doing their best work, fueling workplace conflicts and depriving businesses of their single greatest advantage.
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