Remembering Norma Rae: Why is the Working Class Invisible in Movies Coming Out of Hollywood Today?

Source: Robert Nathan and Jo-Ann Mort, The Nation, Vol. 284 no. 10, March 12, 2007
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“Unionized” isn’t a word you hear in many American movies. “A decent wage,” now there’s a phrase that doesn’t crop up too often. As for the evocative “your lives and your substance,” poetic descriptions of the human condition aren’t generally found in contemporary entertainment.

The Care Crisis

Source: Ruth Rosen, The Nation, Vol. 284 no. 10, March 12, 2007

For four decades, American women have entered the paid workforce–on men’s terms, not their own–yet we have done precious little as a society to restructure the workplace or family life. The consequence of this “stalled revolution,” a term coined by sociologist Arlie Hochschild, is a profound “care deficit.” A broken healthcare system, which has left 47 million Americans without health coverage, means this care crisis is often a matter of life and death. Today the care crisis has replaced the feminine mystique as women’s “problem that has no name.” It is the elephant in the room–at home, at work and in national politics–gigantic but ignored.

Mother Load: why Can’t America Have a Family-Friendly Workplace?

Source: The American Prospect, Vol. 18 no. 3, March 2007

Values Begin at Home, but Who’s Home?
In the struggle to balance work and family, work is winning.
By Heather Boushey

The Architecture of Work and Family
To have a job and a life, we need to redesign the national household.
By Ellen Bravo

What Do Women and Men Want?
Many of the same things — but our system contributes to gender conflicts over work, parenting, and marriage.
By Kathleen Gerson

The Opt-Out Revolution Revisited
Women aren’t foresaking careers for domestic life. The ground rules just make it impossible to have both.
By Joan C. Williams

Responsive Workplaces
The business case for employment that values fairness and families
By Jodie Levin-Epstein

Setting a Low Bar
By Ann Friedman

Atlantic Passages
How Europe supports working parents and their children.
By Janet C. Gornick

What About Fathers?
Marriage, work, and family in men’s lives.
By Scott Coltrane

The Mother of All Issues
What it will take to put work and family on the national agenda.
By Tamara Draut

Related Web-Only Content

Fighting Apart for Time Together
Why is all the activism for work/life balance split along gender lines? By Courtney E. Martin

Grade Inflation
Too many magazines and organizations set a low bar for honoring “family-friendly” companies. By Ann Friedman
A shorter version of this piece appeared in the print edition of the Mother Load special report.

What a Load
In the discussion about achieving work/life balance, men are getting a free pass. By Linda Hirshman

Father Load
A TAP Exchange on the role of fathers in achieving work/family balance. By Kathleen Gerson, Courtney E. Martin, Brian Reid, and Linda Hirshman

Pleading Their Case
Can “Family Responsibilities Discrimination” lawsuits change the workplace? By Jeanine Plant

Just Jobs? Organizing for Economic Justice

Source: Race Poverty and the Environment: A Journal for Social and Environmental Justice, Vol. 14 no. 1, Spring 2007

One doesn’t have to possess an advanced degree in economics to see that there is something definitively out of alignment when it comes to job creation in the United States. Multinational corporations with no national, much less local, allegiances are given billions of dollars in tax subsidies in a shell game, which moves an ever-shrinking number of manufacturing jobs from city to suburbs, and state to state. Big box retail stores are destroying locally owned small businesses in shopping districts across the country, and the largest employment growth is taking place in low-paying service sector jobs. Real wages are stagnant and fundamentals, such as overtime pay, health insurance, retirement benefits, job security, even regular paid vacation, are swirling away at hurricane speeds.

Articles include:

Economy in Crisis
· The Fight for Quality Jobs: Our Battle Against Neoliberalism
· The Great Corporate Job Scam: Money for Nothing
· The Economic Crisis Ahead
· Fastest Growing Jobs of ’06: Are You Handy with Bedpans and Brooms?
· Are Bad Jobs Good for Poor People? The Wal-Mart Question
· Healthy Jobs for All: What Will It Take?

Economy in Transformation
· Rising from Below: Immigrant Workers Open New Organizing Fronts
· Blacks and Immigrants: More Allies Than Adversaries
· The Poor People’s Campaign: Non-Violent Insurrection for Economic Justice
· Black and Brown: The United Colors of Low-Wage Workers
· Flint
· Paving the Road Out of Poverty

Economic Impacts
· Rooted in Slavery: Prison Labor Exploitation
· Toxic Sentence: Captive Labor and Electronic Waste
· Racism in United States Welfare Policy
· From Welfare to Low-Wage Work
· Home Is Where the Work Is: The Color of Domestic Labor

Organizing
· Worker Centers
· The Workplace Project
· No Justice, No Growth: How L.A. Makes Developers Create Decent Jobs
· Sweatshops on Wheels: Union-Community Coalition Takes Aim at Port Trucking
· Sewing Alliances: Anti-Sweatshop Activism in the United States
· Growing Local Food into Quality Green Jobs in Agriculture

Case Studies
· Health Industry Jobs Help Build Healthy Economy
· Green Jobs Corps in Oakland
· Painting Boston Schools for a Fair Wage
· Quality Work Through Self-Employment
· One Million Good Jobs
· Work Work Work

The Color of Care

Source: Nina Williams-Mbengue and Steve Christian, State Legislatures, Vol. 33 no. 4, April 2007
(subscription required)

Legislators are seeking answers to difficult questions about race and child welfare.

Thirty-three percent of kids in foster care are African American, but they make up only 15 percent of the child population. Yet federal studies indicate that child abuse and neglect is actually lower for black families than it is for whites.

Our Fractured Fiscal System

Source: Carl Tubbesing and Vic Miller, State Legislatures, Vol. 33 no. 4, April 2007
(subscription required)

Fiscal relations between the states and federal government may be at an all-time low.

For two decades, unfunded federal mandates have symbolized the growing fracture in state-federal fiscal relations. Most legislators can readily name the current offenders—the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, No Child Left Behind, the Help America Vote Act and homeland security. And they are girding for the possibility of the next huge one, the Real ID act. The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates that the federal government has shifted $100 billion in costs to states over the past four fiscal years—not including the $11 billion that Real ID could cost states over the next five years

Avoiding Jail Pays Off

Source: Sarah Steverman and Tara Lubin, State Legislatures, Vol. 33 no. 4, April 2007
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Diverting people with mental illnesses out of prison takes commitment from the community along with adequate funding.

Community mental health care can be costly, but it is far cheaper for states than incarceration. It costs around $26 a day to treat someone in a community mental health program, but it can cost more than $65 a day to keep them in jail. And states can tap federal resources to help pay for community mental health services. The vast majority of prison costs, however, falls on the state.

Delinquency Detour

Source: Sarah Hammond, State Legislatures, Vol. 33 no. 4, April 2007
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Treating mental illness in young people can keep them from a future of crime and delinquency.

Without treatment, these young people continue in delinquency and often become adult criminals. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that more than three-quarters of the mentally ill offenders in jail had prior offenses. Effective assessment and comprehensive responses to court-involved juveniles with mental health needs is necessary to help break this cycle and provide for healthier young people who are less likely to commit crimes, Cocozza says.

Helping Mentally Ill Criminals

Source: Donna Lyons, State Legislatures, Vol. 33 no. 4, April 2007
(subscription required)

Jailing offenders with mental illness serves no one, but new policies are bringing about needed changes.

The deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill in the 1960s was designed to care for those with acute mental health needs in the community instead of in state-run asylums. But the movement to be more compassionate and cost-effective in treating those with mental illness has had a down side. In the generation since many state mental hospitals closed and treatment approaches shifted to the community, many people with serious mental illnesses have failed to get the treatment they need. For some, that means homelessness and crime, and advocates now decry what they call the “criminalization of the mentally ill.”