In the U.S., as elsewhere, essential workers have been rightly praised for their willingness to take on additional risk and stress. Their commitment to helping patients, students, and customers face-to-face went beyond the ordinary requirements of earning a paycheck. Yet some essential workers faced more serious risks of infection than others, and differences in pay among them were also significant.… Read more →
I invoke a billionaire investor to call your attention to a particularly important divergence between value and price–the low wages of care.
In a recent foray to the meetings of the American Sociological Association in New York City, organized by President Mary Romero, I put together a powerpoint presentation linking the devaluation of care work to the weak bargaining power of care workers, in turn related to the specific characteristics of care work.
Sociologists tend to emphasize the highly-gendered cultural devaluation of care, along with the vulnerability of the low-wage workers (including many immigrants and people of color) who provide it. I agree these factors are important, but I think they need to be situated in a larger analysis of institutional mechanisms that affect the bargaining power of all workers. For one thing, such an analysis could help build sympathies, and perhaps even alliances, between relatively high-wage care workers such as teachers and nurses, and others, such as child care and elder care workers.
The opening question of a conference titled “After the Care Crisis” at the University of Pennsylvania on November 15 and 16 2018, was “What would an equitable relationship among care workers, employers, and society loo like?” You can find the program here (I hope it stays up!)–unique in bringing scholars and activists together. Started on Thursday night with a screening… Read more →
Big victory for home workers organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Massachusetts, who just successfully bargained a new contract that will bring their wages up to $15 an hour by 2018. As an article in the Boston Globe points out, home care workers joined the national Fight for $15 about a year ago, forming a political coalition… Read more →
The British newspaper famous for its courageous investigative journalism on many different fronts wins my prize for the best reporting of the year on paid care work. A series of related articles, available in gallery format, address the underpayment of care workers in the U.K., recently dramatized by a report that 100 care agencies in the country are under investigation… Read more →
All the child care workers in the U.S. combined earn less than the top 25 hedge fund managers and traders. Wow. Even a jaded old care-work researcher like me finds this pretty startling. I came across the claim in a New York Times article describing Hillary Clinton’s speech at a recent rally and wondered what it was based on, given… Read more →
The case for “green jobs” took off in fall 2008, when my colleagues at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) began publicizing their estimates of the potential jobs that could be created by public investments in conservation and alternative energy. I began wondering out loud and on line about the gender composition of the jobs that would be created. Despite… Read more →
Most women know that having a child is costly and leaves them vulnerable to poverty. But most probably don’t know how these costs and risks actually measure up, especially considering important differences across women and their families. Even as you read this, highly-skilled researchers are figuring out how to “do the numbers.” About ten years ago, a new genre of… Read more →