Thank unions for weekends

Now out in paperback, Philip Dray’s There Is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America does much more than cover the history of union building and busting in the United States. A detailed, fascinating account of union history from 19th-century Massachusetts textile mills to air-traffic controllers, it also makes an astute analysis of why unions matter to the current American economy. Dray notes how the move to white-collar work for most Americans weakened the unions, and instead of providing an entry into ownership, created a new kind of sweatshop, one where computers and email can be used to control workers with what he calls “an electronic collar.” While the illusion that we still have an eight-hour day and a five-day work week remains, American labor is now working more than ever, with less protection from unions. Most people only have time to read one book about organized labor; this should be the one.