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Wall Street's War on Workers: How Mass Layoffs and Greed Are Destroying the Working Class and What to Do about It (Hardcover)

Wall Street's War on Workers: How Mass Layoffs and Greed Are Destroying the Working Class and What to Do about It By Les Leopold Cover Image
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"This book gave me a new lens to see the world."--Robert Krulwich, former co-host of WNYC's Radiolab

Addressing the pressing issues affecting everyday Americans during an election year is essential--and one of our nation's most profound challenges is the devastating impact of mass layoffs. Layoffs upend people's lives, cause enormous stress, and lead to debilitating personal debt. The societal harm caused by mass layoffs has been known for decades. Yet, we do little to stop them. Why? Why do we allow whole communities to be destroyed by corporate decision-makers? Why do we consider mass layoffs a natural, baked-in feature of modern financialized capitalism? And what are our elected officials going to do about it?

In Wall Street's War on Workers, Les Leopold, co-founder of the Labor Institute, provides a clear lens with which we can see how healthy corporations in the United States have used mass layoffs and stock buybacks to enrich shareholders at the expense of employees. With detailed research and concise language, Leopold explains why mass layoffs occur and how our current laws and regulations allow companies to turn these layoffs into short-term financial gains.

Original and insightful, Wall Street's War on Workers places US labor practices in the broader context of our social and political life, examining the impact financial strip-mining and legalized looting are having on party politics, destroying the integrity of democratic institutions. Leopold expertly lays out how the proliferation of opioids coupled with Wall Street's destruction of jobs in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin have led to widespread mass layoff fatalism. Democrats have unarguably lost the longstanding support of millions of urban and rural workers, and Leopold points out how party leaders have been wrong about the assumption that the white working class is becoming less progressive and motivated to abandon the Democratic Party by reactionary positions on divisive social issues.

With deep analyses, stark examples, and surprisingly simple proactive steps forward, Leopold also asserts that:

  • Surviving and thriving in a competitive global economy does not require mass layoffs.
  • A new virulent, financialized version of American capitalism is policy driven.
  • To end mass layoffs, Wall Street's domination of our economy must end.
  • The accepted "wisdom" about white working-class populism is wrong.
  • Ending stock buybacks and changing corporate officers' pay structures could eliminate mass layoffs.
  • Mass layoffs are not the result of inevitable economic "laws" or new technologies like artificial intelligence.

Both groundbreaking and urgent, Wall Street's War on Workers not only offers solutions that could halt mass layoffs but also offers new hope for workers everywhere.

"Leopold offers a contrarian yet compelling take on America's "white working class" . . . and says] Democrats in 2024 ignore this massive, potentially sympathetic voting bloc at their peril."--Booklist (starred review)

"Wall Street's War on Workers is] the book neither party wants you to read . . . It] penetrates one of the chief media deceptions of the 21st century, namely that working-class voters are driven by racism and xenophobia, and not by a more simple, enraging motive: they've been repeatedly ripped off, by the wealthy donors to both parties."--Matt Taibbi

About the Author

After graduating from Oberlin College and Princeton University's School of Public and International Affairs, Les Leopold co-founded the Labor Institute in 1976, a nonprofit organization that designs research and educational programs on occupational safety and health, the environment, and economics for unions, worker centers, and community organizations. He continues to serve as executive director of the Labor Institute and is currently working to build a national economic educational train-the-trainer program with unions and community groups. Les has written several books, including Runaway Inequality: An Activist's Guide to Economic Justice (Labor Institute Press, 2015), How to Make a Million Dollars an Hour: Why Hedge Funds Get Away with Siphoning Off America's Wealth (John Wiley and Sons, 2013), The Looting of America: How Wall Street's Game of Fantasy Finance Destroyed Our Jobs, Pensions and Prosperity, and--What We Can Do About It (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2009), and The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor: The Life and Times of Tony Mazzocchi (Chelsea Green Publishing, June 2006). The Mazzocchi story won the Gold Medal from Independent Publisher Book Awards for best biography in 2008.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781645022336
ISBN-10: 1645022331
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing Company
Publication Date: February 22nd, 2024
Pages: 240
Language: English