June 2008 | A Wiley book
Love the work, hate the job
Why America’s best workers
are unhappier than ever
By David Kusnet
Why more and more Americans express dissatisfaction with their jobs while their work has become more intellectually challenging and less physically exhausting?
When pollsters ask people about both job satisfaction and work satisfaction, they discover workers, blue collar, white collar, pink collar, love their careers but not their working conditions. What turns a model employee into a malcontent? David Kusnet followed the workers at four companies in the Seattle area in the turning-point year of 2000: Microsoft, Boeing, Kaiser Aluminum, and Northwest Hospital. He tells the stories of skilled and dedicated workers battling not so much for better pay and benefits as for respect and a say in the future of the business. Exposing a powerful paradox of globalization, he argues that Americans can only compete with quality products, not cheap labor. But indiscriminate cost-cutting and the pursuit of short-term profits prevent the best workers from doing their best work, fueling the workplace conflicts of the twenty-first century.
Love the Work, Hate the Job
“With energy, fine reporting, and a sure grasp of the realities of people’s working lives, David Kusnet has written one of the most important studies of how people do their jobs since Daniel Bell’s Work and Its Discontents. Kusnet makes a case everyone needs to hear: America’s workers, including high-tech professionals, want to do their jobs right and they want to do them well, and what they need is more freedom in the workplace to achieve those ends. May Kusnet’s book make us realize that liberation and productivity go hand in hand.”
—E.J. Dionne Jr., author of Souled Out and Why Americans Hate Politics
“David Kusnet’s Love the Work, Hate the Job offers keen analysis and political insights into the plight of American workers struggling to have government pay attention to their needs. This is a must-read for anyone who finds the daily grind, well, grinding.”
—Donna Brazile, campaign manager, Al Gore for President, 2000
“Ever wonder why Boeing engineers have to strike and Microsoft whiz kids can’t get health insurance? Even if you haven’t, you’ll love this—and it’s no job to read it! Don’t wait for them to make this a TV series. With lots of great stories, David Kusnet explains why there’s trouble in paradise.”
—Thomas Geoghegan, author of Which Side Are You On?: Trying to Be for Labor When It’s Flat on Its Back
“With eloquence, wisdom, and a sure grasp of recent history, David Kusnet has singlehandedly revived the once-proud craft of labor journalism. Anyone who wants to understand the discontent in high-tech workplaces today must read this book.”
—Michael Kazin, author of A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan and The Populist Persuasion: An American History
Table of contents
Introduction: The Battle of Seattle.
1. Henry Kaiser’s Orphans.
2. From Blue-Collar Blues to White-Collar Woes.
3. Graveyard Shift.
4. Caring Enough to Get Mad.
5. Cyber Proles.
6. “Aren’t We Technology Workers?”
7. “I Know What It’s Like to Be Treated Reasonably”.
8. The Love-Hate Workplace.
9. “A Company That Hires Engineers and Other People”.
10. The Max Planck Institute for Cynicism.
11. “On Strike for Boeing”.
12. One of Boeing’s Best Years Ever.
Afterword: “No One Knows Where”.
David Kusnet was chief speech writer for President Clinton during the 1992 campaign and the first two years of the administration. Before that, he was a speech writer for Democratic presidential nominees Michael Dukakis (1988) and Walter Mondale (1984). From 1974 through 1984, he was on the staff of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), coordinating communications in organizing campaigns, contract negotiations, strikes, and other efforts. He was a reporter for suburban newspapers in New York and Connecticut from 1972 through 1974. Kusnet joined EPI in 1995 and is also a freelance writer and consultant to labor organizations, government agencies, and nonprofit groups.