tv After Words Steven Greenhouse Beaten Down Worked Up CSPAN January 4, 2020 10:00pm-11:01pm EST
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time to talk to about it. >> thank you for the kind words it is great to speak with you. >> when i think of this book i see three major parts per go after you introduce the situation now, you do a really good job of talking about through stories how workers struggle and how they themselves have built the middle class to a great extent by organizin organizing, striking, bargaininh adversity and to demand policy changes. and then you go through the hard times of what i call the reagan era that i think we're still in that companies starting with the president of the united states attacked workers a lot and they are unions and to tell a lot of
hopeful stories about the creative and innovative ways workers have been organizing and make policy recommendations. a lot of books like this are criticized because they come up short on the policy recommendations because you have made a quite a few interesting suggestions of what could be done to restore the most powerful workers in this country. so lay out where you see things right now. what is the status of the working people and their ability to shape their lives at work over the last 19 years for people all over the nation is that so many people had no idea what unions do or how they help to bring us the 40
hour work week and pensions and the bumper sticker for those who brought us the weekend. i wanted to explain to people unions have achieved a lot in american history but now they are in decline they have been taking it on the chin and as a result things are considerably worse for workers than they were 34 years ago. i think far too few americans realize that the american worker has it worse than other industrial nations. so more paid maternal leave the only industrial nation that doesn't guarantee all workers paid vacation or european union workers are guaranteed six weeks and for decades now american workers have been suffering terrible
wage stagnation while the profits have reached record levels so i think a lot of workers feel something is broken and they are very frustrated. in my book i try to explain why things have headed south in many ways. because it is arguably the weakest it has been just one out of ten are not in a union that's down from one out of three at their peak certainly unions have pulled but the role they play to build the middle class to help giving workers a voice whether a job safety or pensions and they have played a key role to enact medicare and social security more generous but in recent years they have been on the defensive and corporate
power is trumped in many ways so we have to figure out to health and wage stagnation. for example we have it raise the federal minimum wage in over a decade this is the longest time it has not been increased. and i submit and argue because worker power is so weak in congress they cannot persuade them to raise minimum wage and it's very hard for americans to live on $7.25 an hour. one of the keys is to educate leaders about the problems workers have and the strategies to increase power for workers to help create a more prosperous nation for millions of americans and millions of workers.
>> to a certain extent a lot of people don't even realize how few rights they have. one suggestion is to be go away from the current system in almost all states except montana in which workers could be for a good reason or a bad reason or no reason at all. basically you have no job security and you suggest going toward a just cause system where workers could be fired if they did something wrong or not just because the boss doesn't like who you are going out with. they could fire you for that literally. most workers don't think that can happen to them until it doe does.
>> sometimes i get a phone call for someone - - from someone out of the blue my boyfriend got fired yesterday because he was two minutes late and the boss was angry about his attitude and was not smiling. is that illegal? >> the at will employment means your employer can fire you for any reason or no reason except specifically like a civil right law of discrimination. people realize their jobs are very precarious and uncertain. and to my mind one of the big problems is that americans don't have power they are scared to exercise their voice at work. i write about the mining disaster where those mining workers were killed and they knew about the dangers in the minds but they were so scared to speak up with the dangerous gas filling the mine and it
exploded so some people argue we should move from at will to just cause so workers could only be fired for a legitimate reason. just cause system would certainly make them more willing to speak up with a safety problem or experience sexual harassment on the job. >> the other issue of raising the minimum wage is unbelievable we have gone this long without a raise of the minimum wage. in the house we pass the wage act that would raise the minimum wage at $15 an hour by 2025 gradually over the next five years or so and end the practice to have sub minimum wage for kid workers who are disproportionately women and
people of color who are taken advantage of them that would put millions of dollars into poor people's pockets and i think your point is the power isn't in the politics and the state capital just to get a decent shake in the united states in recent years. >> one thing that kills me is looking at business lobbyist to complain about big labor and how unions are so powerful so then who is really powerful and big quex i sought in the 2016 campaign cycle business gave more than three. $4 billion which is more than as much as unions according to a nonpartisan group.
each year in washington corporations have just under $3 billion on lobbying which is six times as much as unions and that explains a lot of the problems we see in washington. so to me it's weird that congress raced through that tax cut for business when corporations or record profits from wall street was at record levels. >> and how far we can go in. >> before we go in a different direction. >> absolutely. and i have to frame way so many folks in congress or the senate is doing nothing to raise the minimum wage because they are listening to their corporate donors. >> i want to talk about these policy ideas but i want to emphasize to our viewers that at least i got so much out of
this book from your stories and it's a great part of the book the book is telling the stories of the workers today but also throughout american history. so i want to ask you, don't you think a lot of the stories that you tell from 100 years ago really have a lot of relevance to today quex so talk about the uprising of the 20000 and tell us about that story. i thought that had a lot of relevance to the strikers that work with - - struggles at the workers go through today or the issues they think that's not just about work but immigrant rights and for people of color in society. >> you read a lot of labor history and a character who
fascinated me over the years her name is sarah she was born in the ukraine, jewish, her father is very religious. a lot of people's kids and relatives had moved to new york. she would write letters for them because she was very literate. she did some work so her family moved to new york from ukraine a very bright young lady hoping to be a doctor someday when she arrives in new york she only spoke yiddish so what did she do? she worked in a sweatshop worker she was appalled that the conditions. 7:00 a.m. through 7:00 p.m. i go to work before the sun came up. >> seven days a week.
and the bosses was sexually harass the women maybe they could be in the bathroom for a minute or two sometimes they had to pay five cents week to use drinking water and she thought this is appalling so she became an activist. i will not take this. she's in her early twenties became one of the most prominent garment worker activists and then people started to go on strike there was a long strike at one or two garment factories and they made the decision do we have a general strike of garment workers to try to put maximum pressure on the factories. so they were deciding over these meetings and then say i
don't know if we should have a strike are women dedicated enough to their job quex she stood up and said i think it's time to call the general i'm tired of being a poor working woman struggling day after day and the place went bonkers and that began the largest strike to date by limited american history. to this day. they were calling for a 52 hour work week. not even 40 hours. people think that was handed down by god especially the younger people but as one by the struggle of thousands of workers and their unions admit that uprising led to two months in the dead of winter
these women mostly jewish and italian immigrants but after two months i got 56 hours they did not have to pay for needle and thread and then they could join the union to have recognition. one of the few factories that was not joining but then there was a tremendous tragedy where workers died in a fire. >> here you have a story of a teenager and a woman in her twenties many were teenagers are very young overwhelmingly women and immigrant. they didn't speak english they spoke italian and yiddish they were despised by high society even though some high society women came to their aid and
you don't have time to tell all the details but they were be not. - - beaten up by goons that were sent in by their employers. so today with these inspiring movements that we should stop mass incarceration and black lives matter and immigrant lives matter that the daca kids say we demand our rights of other undocumented people. and those with the movement of climate change when i read your account so how aspiring for young people and activists today who fight for rights of this country. i don't think they say i should look to the labor movement for inspiration. >> one of the themes in the
book is solidarity is important with people working collectively to lift themselves up to improve their wages and to help fair treatment of african-americans with black lives matter but agency is important individuals need to be willing to stick on - - stick their next out to stand up and demand justice like in the uprising of 20000 that's crazy at what one.one broke 11 of her ribs she didn't even want to tell her parents because she thought they would not let her go speak out. and also there are incidents literally papers like the new york tribune that explained
the thugs and the goons would come and beat the jesus out of these young women and the police would come and arrest the women and let the thugs go. they were so one-sided. it shows how the establishment and the police and the courts were aligned against workers. despite that they were able to win the strike. in the book i write about modern day workers who use their agency to fight i write about one worker in kansas city to hold to full-time fast food jobs leaving for work at 6:00 a.m. and come back at midnight with three daughters he would leave in the morning returned after they went to sleep and he complained he works so hard to make ends meet he doesn't see his daughters most of the week. for a while they were homeless
when the hours were cut off and it was crazy someone who was busting his derrière could hardly make ends meet and he became an activist and was a leader of one of the fight for this team and as i explained in the book i was a very first journalist to write about this and when it began seven years ago workers were demanding $15 an hour they said that is super ambitious pie in the sky now seven years later here we are new york california illinois maryland connecticut massachusetts district of columbia have all adopted a new minimum wage. so when workers are willing to stand up and individuals can stick their neck out they can achieve big change and a lot of those lessons of today's
activists weather climate activist or a black lives matter or me to they learn a lot from the labor movement to write how the uprising of the 20000 in michigan when workers really stand up and come together they can achieve historical change. so in my chapter under teacher strikes in oklahoma and arizona and los angeles and chicago. the teachers were tired of being beaten down. you have to do something not just to increase pay but make sure schools get the funding they need, class size does not balloon we have enough money to buy modern textbooks. the teacher strikes have sent a message to the nation how worker power and trade unions
help build a fair nation. >> talk about strikes as a mechanism because they were very important to build the middle class in this country and they have fallen into disuse. you share information in the book how many strikes there were in the fifties or sixties or seventies and how because of law and weakness in labor they have fallen into nearly complete disuse and talking about when we start to see the teachers and hotel workers and the autoworkers at gm, right now my kid is on strike at a graduate employee. so tell us about the strikes in the role of history and how you see that going forward.
>> in the forties through the seventies there were far more strikes than there are today in the seventies there were 300 large strikes per year. and of the previous decade there were only 13. and workers had become intimidated. in the fifties and sixties between the employers and unions as the nation's economist and they gave contracts and come the 1980s the united states felt pressure from mobilization with the japanese cars with the imports of clothing and tvs and radios.
and those put them under pressure to make employers bolder about confronting unions. >> so shortly after he became president in 1981, air traffic controllers went on strike to demand a large increase and a four day work week and for reagan it was a make my day moment paraguay will not put up with this strike even though he was as president of the screen actors guild i think he really try to show he would not let labor push him around he fined 11300 air traffic controllers for going on strike legally. and i explained in the book the union mishandled the strike they did not get public
support from the fellow unions so they were clobbered and that was a major step back for unions across the nation that discouraged the unions from going on strike and at the same time the crackdown on air traffic controllers emboldened corporate america to get much tougher toward unions. so in the eighties we saw a major decline in strikes but also corporations getting much tougher with unionization efforts and that made it much harder to unionize. that's a big reason the percentage of workers is half in the eighties because the corporations they use so many sophisticated tactics to prevent workers and those who support unions often spy on workers who support unions so if workers vote to form a union so as i said the number
of strikes have fallen to the lowest level in more than half a century. but the last year something happened. february 19, 2018 a quiet time for unions it was really the only major thing going on. three days later there was a volcanic explosion in west virginia where tens of thousands of teachers wearing red shirts went on strike and to explain how to teachers and english teacher named jay and one named emily got the ball rolling for a huge strike. >> without the formal leadership of the union. >> yes. west virginia teachers unions cannot bargain collectively with their districts. they have to beg the state
legislature to give them raises. it was very conservative legislature cutting corporate taxes for the rich and that created a freeze in the education budget statewide antifreeze on teacher salaries. the governor of west virginia was the richest man in west virginia. he said i will give you a raise of 1 percent per year for five years. the teachers were upset because they had the 48th worst pay level of any state. the health care premiums often went up $700 per year so the governors minimum wage of $400 while the health premiums go up more than that.
so they started a facebook page which started slowly but once the governor said we will freeze the rays and the facebook page exploded tens of thousands doing it now all of a sudden they have a big movement. people were fed up. were not going to take it anymore. and that spread across the heat was turning up it was getting worse. they were not getting raises with healthcare payments so in texas for the rich they said we won't tolerate this anymore they went on straight one - - strike at one they want the ability to continue going up so much and they force the governor and state legislature to pay more attention after
years of starving the education budget. >> and teachers followed suit and that would surprise many viewers unions are supposed to be weak. >> oklahoma one of the reddest states in the union i have a social studies teacher there was watching tv to see what they were doing and said we could do that here in oklahoma there is a huge strike in oklahoma with double-digit raises and arizona teachers were on the phone with those who lead the strike in west virginia and learned lessons there. it was an effort by the teachers and in los angeles and chicago that the government is not spending enough on her schools. we are tired of scarcity the class size is getting bigger kids are falling behind,
behind, obsolete textbooks and the teachers went on strike not just to fight for a raises but a better school system and not just for ourselves but for the community. the recent gm strike that the day the strike began the union's chief negotiator said this strike is not just for us but for all americans. explained that. you are also concerned about the expatriates living overseas the governor is worried about this factory closing in ohio and gm said demand for the chevy cruz but it kept open a plant in mexico and one of the purpose and
then american public to be concerned about the grandkids and so are we. and those iconic companies that 7 percent of those workers were temps. . . . . forty days including after they are voting on it and then they finally went back to work. and i can't tell you how many of the different picket lines i was on where i would talk to the senior people, the members who had been ten, 20, 30 years. i said what you really out here for? and so many of them said i am out or for the temps. these senior workers had not
had a raise in a long time. they had a lot of their own concerns, but they just felt it was so unjust, that they were working next to somebody making half of what they were, and it was corrosive to the culture of the workplace. and they wanted to end the whole idea of two-tier wages and temp workers who really had very few rights. they really succeeded of the strike and improved tremendously. so it really was a fight for the whole working-class of the country, not just for themselves. it was inspirational. and i have to tell you something, this did not get enough attention. not one person cross that picket line. 49000 workers, just think about our society where people say oh are society is so divided.
akon be, and seaways. political parties, race, age, people, everybody's on their smart phone not paying attention to each other. here we are almost 50000 workers who stuck together for over a month and wanted change. i don't think we appreciate that human solidarity and society more. and that's what it takes to make change. >> that is a great. i think a lot of workers are frustrated. there tired of at will employment, they're tired of gm and many other companies where they hire younger workers at much lower wages and are working soldier workers making far more. i think a lot of people feel the system is rigged. and i think that's one reason a lot of workers voted for donald trump. he they thought he would be a guy who would unring the system. and i argue in the book and
set unfortunately donald truck has done many things against workers interest. he said nothing against on wage wages. he wants to reduce care healthcare protections, he took and stepped to make wall street firms act and worker's best interests in handling the 401ks. the trump administration with the fiduciary role. i think this is many workers turned to donald trump looking for a way to raise themselves to unring the system. i think a lot of the reason there's a lot of workers looking to unions. and i think right now, that's why the general motor strikers had such support. one of the interesting things is that an annual poll by gallup found that public approval of unions is near its highest level in 50 years. over 60% of american workers approve of unions. the highest levels young young
americans, 67% of them. there is a recent study by mit professor saying one into nonunion workers say they would vote to join a union tomorrow if they could. where is just one and 16 private sector workers are antiunion. so there's a crazy disconnect that 50% of workers want to join unions but only 6% are in unions. and i argue and i explained in chapter and verse how corporations fight so hard to prevent workers from forming unions. because corporations, they fear unions are going to make corporations share more of their profits and prosperity with their workers. they don't want to reduce their profits. for years, the overwhelming idea in corporate america was profit maximization, profit maximization, profit maximization, and unions are there's too much income
inequality. unions are the most effective vehicle to reduce income inequality. i think that is a big reason why public approval for unions is increasing. and i say that even though yes corruption has been a problem. yes for 20 years unions did discriminate against african-americans and did not encourage women workers enough. i think that has changed a lot. there is much less corruption. there's still too much in the legacy of discrimination against blacks and asian americans, hispanic americans is behind unions. unions see that a key part of the future american workforce is of women, and workers of color, and union say we bow for everybody. [inaudible] we fight for black workers asian american women workers and explained in the book that unions probably have done more than any other institution in
society except perhaps our wonderful military to bring workers of different races and religions together. >> i am really eager to spend enough time to talk about policy. people who want to read this book are going to want to read it for the stories, not just the earlier ones, but the more recent ones. and i want to ask you to pick out a few of those. because as you know, it was fun for me to it read this because i live some of in my years at sei you for example, you could sorta take your pick. but when i was at the afl-cio, we had some unions collectively help workers at lax though airport at los angeles organize there. and we use the community benefit structure that was pioneered by lane there. and you talk about that story. i got to march on the picket line at the front tier strike, the longest strike where
nobody crossed the picket line and over 60 years in las vegas. and you explained really, very effectively on how the culinary union what is now called unite here is union they are, has an incredible model of empowering and organizing workers. many immigrant workers who were hotel, housekeeper, but has a middle-class life. we brought a lot of young people into the labor union through labor summer which i created and ran. i think you pulled threads together in various places about the importance of young people organizing. i mentioned my son, graduate employees organizing a different universities has been an area of growth for the labor movement. so talk about, pick out one or two of the stories of the innovations that you have seen workers creating through
worker centers, unions, that you think could be promising models for workers to gain more voice of power in the economy going forward. >> limited tell two stories and i'll try not to tilted too much time. i devoted chapter to the union in las vegas it was a union that represented a hotel housekeepers, dishwashers, assistant cooks. i read about them because in many ways they are a model union at that has done a great job listening to people who are usually lower wage workers lifting them to middle-class building a powerful union. i profile a hotel housekeeper named francis garcia who works for the mgm grand, she makes night teen dollars and 51 cents an hour. under the union contract she is 40 hours a week. that makes $780 a week, about $40000 a year. and i visited her apartments,
she has a nice three bedroom apartment with her three kids. she has raised them on her own. >> and the tremendous healthcare you have to mention that. >> she doesn't pay any premiums for her health her care. he/she does not need medicaid she does not need foodstamp she does not need white welfare. i describe what a really good effective union can do to lift people into the middle class. in comparison contrast the typical nonunion hotel worker makes just $11 an hour according to bureau statistics. and they often don't work 40 hours a week say work 330 hours week. at $17000 a year, you cannot raise a family, three kids on $17000 a year. you can hardly rate yourself on $17000 a year. so the culinary union is a great example of what unions can achieve. so the 2016 election, wisconsin, pennsylvania,
michigan, union strongholds have all flipped from blue to red. and i explained in my chapter on the culinary union that a very powerful effective union that does a great job communicating with its members, mobilizing them to get involved in elections to make phone calls, knock on doors, that union, the culinary union played a key rolls in flipping nevada from red to blue. and i quote the president of the parent union saying maybe unions are strong in ohio and michigan, but if they do it we do. we communicate with our workers we educate them about the economy and what is going on in politics. unions in those states do what we did in nevada. and francis garcia, she fled honduras because of the huge hurricane there. she moved to the united states and is fighting very hard for
lifting other workers, lifting herself, and raising her children. i think that's a great example. >> so it seems to me that this story has these incredible implications for both policy and the labor movement itself. because if we didn't have to subsidize workers say at another hotel company and all around the country, where workers are making poverty wages, or walmart or many other sectors where the vast majority of workers are nonunion. and we the taxpayers are paying for food stamps, temporary assistance for needy families, or so many other forms, medicaid forms of public assistance. if workers just were able to form their own unions they could take care of themselves. and then there are the implications of your talk about in the book for the labor movement where you think they need to devote more money to organizing. well here's the union that did that. were they empowered their own workers.
to take care of themselves instead of picking up a phone calling the union staff person. the story you hotel in the book has implications very broadly for labor movement and itself along with policy. >> a few responses. these elaborate studies have been done showing hyper sensitive walmart workers are on food stamps. those studies have pressured amazon to adopt a 15-dollar minimum wage at its warehouses. it is true that all of these workers who work really hard, still unfortunately need federal food stamps and other assistance. now the culinary union, there are several aspects did a great job improving and increasing benefits of workers. many unions don't do a good enough job involving their members, mobilizing their members in communicating with their members. one of the points i make about
the culinary union as it doesn't exemplary job. i profile the housekeeper francis garcia, she not only works full-time cleaning rooms, not only does she raise three kids on her own, she also volunteers a lot for the unit is a shop steward. she goes about four coworkers who get maybe punished for arriving five minutes later have a hard time finishing cleaning the 14 rooms in the allotted eight hours. this is a union where they really fighting for each other and have each other's back. it's a model because this union really does a lot of organizing, gets membership involved in organizing drives or many unions have lost members of the past two, three, four decades. they've these guys have gone from 18000 to sell over 60000 members. >> while a. >> overall membership in the nation is declined by nearly one third period to this is a model union that i recommend
folks read my chapter on the culinary union to see what union can achieve when they do everything right. >> i need to mention one other aspect in that story because i think i am the only member of congress who used to run a state workforce system. you in the book talk about one innovation might be having states administer unemployment insurance. but also possibly be involved in job training programs. and helping workers with access. talk about how this union has gone far beyond just helping them access job training, but the employers and the union have created one of the most inspiring job-training systems in america. so that you can come in as somebody with no training and start cleaning hotel rooms and rise to become a maître d' or sommelier working to make
$90000 a year or something. talk about their training institute, because isn't that a worthwhile part of the story? >> yes, some unions are a great job training. the building trades unions have great apprenticeships. not everyone is going to go to college. everyone sees a great route to become ups plumbing apprentice, up electric apprentice, and people who don't go to college pursue these apprentices and they pay 60, 70, $80000 a year. period the culinary union has a wonderful training academy so that someone who is a bus, clearing tables and making 25 30,000 dollars a year. they can take courses to become waiters or bartenders and really double their salary to 50 or $60000 a year. on these courses are for free. if they really want they can take further courses become
sommeliers, to become chefs, and triple their salary to make maybe $90000 a year. this is all free. it's a total win-win. the hotels and casinos in las vegas need a talented, loyal, workforce were the eager the workers are eager to climb up the ladder and make more money with new skills and jobs. this training academy is a wonderful industry union cooperative effort, trains several thousand workers a year to give them more skills and enable them to raise their pay. they're all these workers in las vegas who started hotel housekeepers or busters making not much more than minimum wage. and now they are making 50, 60, 70000 to $90000 a year. i'm impressed this academies teaching these people about winds, i attended a class with this amazing pastries chef
training housekeepers to become pastry chefs. it's free it's great for the workers at scrape of hotels is great for society when there's his cooperative efforts to provide industry with the skilled workers they need and to lift workers up in the world who want to. >> let's talk more broadly about this. dimension policy and how we can help more workers in this country access is kind of life. you mentioned the building trades. and they have incredible apprenticeships. there is this thing that everybody should go to college meaning a four-year college. there is no economist that shows our future economy that show where we need more than 50 to 60% of the workforce to go to a four-year college. we were always in need what we might want to call the middle skill jobs that require more than high school but less than
a four-year degree. there really a ticket to the middle-class. and certainly could be if more industries were organized like the building trades are. i don't think most people know the sign on to be ironworker or a labor, or an operating engineer brick layer, all these different trades, that you get education and work. you earned while you learn. you become a master at your craft, you are offered lifelong education, just like a doctor or lawyer you go back again and again. electricians go back to learn about installing solar panels and no electrical vehicle charging stations. and your benefits are affordable. because of your construction worker to get to build one building for six weeks or six months, then you get to go to another one. and each employer contributes to your healthcare enter
retirement. so the question is how can we get this kind of a middle-class life for more americans. because people look at the low unemployment rates, and they say why isn't everybody happy? what you've told the story in your fight for 15 chapter because all this people had a job during thing is they had two or three jobs and they still did not have a middle-class life. so let's kick off the policy discussion. what are your top picks for policy changes that you think we ought to make some more american workers can have a real middle-class life. i think that's all we really want. >> i was based in paris for five years as an economic correspondent. i wrote about companies and workers in germany and italy and france and spain, the netherlands, sweden, and
unfortunately a lot of those folks i spoke to in europe would say they make fun of the united states. they say make jobs. many jobs in the united states paid minimum wage without benefits or vacation. they sneer at the low level of jobs the united states because the united states has a low road economy. i wrote a story about the mcdonald's workers in denmark who averaged $20 an hour and have great benefits and get lots of vacation a year. where mcdonald's workers in the u.s. average $8 an hour and often did not have health coverage or vacation. so i think something was broken in the united states. think that's one of the main points in the book. too often we have a lower economy with low wages and no benefits. it makes it very hard for workers to make ends meet to support their families. makes it very hard for family work balance. so we have to figure out ways to improve things for workers.
so in the book, i really look at various models and strategies to make things better for workers. i said one way is i think are campaign-finance system is broken. can't corporatists by far out outspend unions and worker groups. that's why there's a huge attack on health coverage for all. and i think we have to fix our campaign finances so it's not so dominated by the rich, so dominated by the koch brothers and the corporations. think there's something really wrong when someone could give a hundred million dollars and have a huge voice in the campaign and have much more say than a schoolteacher, or nurse, or steelworker. so i think that something we need to do. >> i met a pushy to do rapidfire here. so in the house we passed hr one which would for example have public financing for
campaigns that people gave up to $200, it would be matched to 61. in some states and cities have done that. let me ask i counted 17 proposals. i thought it was terrific. an ice think for five of them are covered by what we are working through in the house right now that protecting the right to organize acts. or the proactive that we have passed through education and labor committee in which i am the vice chair of. talk about briefly what happens when workers try to form a union, and just if you had to quickly name three or four things that need to change so that workers could actually form a union today. what would they need to be? what you see? >> we have this disconnect were basically one and two union workers about one and 16 are in the union. in the book explain the main reason for this is that
corporations do effective job beating back unions. i have this line in the book that's been picked up saying the united states -- corporations in the united states fight harder to be on track beat back unions and corporations in any other country. they fire workers, they spy on workers, and one of the crazy things under federal law, corporations that break the law to keep out unions they can't be fined. there's no punishments whatsoever. it often takes years to win back the jobs that workers were fired for supporting a union. and i argue in the book that something is broken when corporations can flagrantly and repeatedly break the law to keep out unions and only have the wrist slap. so i think we need much stricter penalties to discourage companies from doing that. and i think another problem is that workers only bargain one workplace at a time. where is in europe it's
industrywide bargaining which gives the workers much more clout when they bargain within industry. i think we have to figure out a way for society -- because corporation so dominate now and worker power so we have to figure out a way to give workers more power in bargaining. [inaudible] there's bargaining right here in new york city where i am, there's tens of thousands of uber and lift drivers. and they can't unionize because they are often considered independent contractors. but in your city did a study finding that 95% of uber and lift drivers make less than minimum ways. you have all these drivers driving 60 to 70 hours a week summer following asleep at the wheel. so the city enacted a law that creates a minimum paid minimum compensation for uber and lift drivers of $17.22 an hour.
their city is stepping in and saying something is really broken for tens of thousands of workers and we want to do what we think is fair for both the industry and for these drivers to help ensure that they can make a decent living and not have to work 70 hours a week and fall asleep at the wheel. >> one of the things i think your book to such a good effective job of doing is showing that there is the agency of the individual, there's a solidarity of group of workers coming together, often thousands, their teachers across the state or whatever the examples are. and then there's the intellect double role of policy. we are not different from europe because god's ordained it or the invisible hands, its countries, states, cities make policies. it causes. so to wrap up, do you think there's hope for workers in america? and if so why? because we got just about a
minute left and i want to let you leave us on an up note. because i feel hopeful myself and your book gave hope. so why? >> i'm feeling much more hope than just a few years ago. there been strikes the workers are showing you're fed up and we want better public approval of unions is way up, even donald trump is calling for paid family leave, something republicans have opposed for years and years. and young workers are really standing up. graduate student unions in my profession journalism, nurses are unionizing, teachers are feeling emboldened. as i think there's a sense something is broken in the workplace and that's collective action, unions, going on strike, working together, even 20000 google workers went on strike to protest how they're handling sexual harassment. i think they're seeing benefits to collective action to working together to improve their lives and their family
lives. and trying to create a fairer society in a fairer america. >> that's great, steve green house, i like your book really lays out how we could have a more hopeful future if we enact policies that can just unleash all of this energy we see around the country. we need to do that so workers can come up with their own solutions to organizing and having a voice at work again. so thank you so much for your book, for your work, and thanks for this conversation i really appreciated it. >> this is great bye thanks for doing this with me this is really great. this program is available as a podcast all can be viewed on our website booktv.org. ♪ ♪ recently philosophy
professor lynch talked in hand new hampshire about political polarization. here's a portion of his talk. >> convictions have a history. what he meant by that, is that often convictions don't start out as identity centered values. they started out as passing opinions, the opinion that some people have that climate change is not a real thing. that can start as an opinion, but become, that sort of opinion can become under the right circumstances hardened into conviction. something that becomes reflective of that person's
identity and the tribes identity that they want to be a part of. and something that becomes part of your identity that way. it becomes really hard to change it. because to change it, to change your mind about that is to change your mind about yourself. and therefore it's not surprising that people will think that's right. with guarded convictions just like the one i mention, they will go to great lengths to rationalize ways of evidence and logic to defend themselves against what they see as a threat. this new book is know it all society. to watch the rest of this program watch our website booktv.org and type the author's name or book titles into the search box at the top of the page. beginning noun book tv vanderbilt university professor brian fitzpatrick offers his thoughts on class action lawsuits.
following by william vanden who will on his career in public service. he is joined by his daughter nation magazine katrina vanden hoover one. you can find more information our program guide or @booktv.org. >> i am very delighted to welcome you to our event today. it's on the conservative case for class actions, a book written by professor fitzpatrick that kinda galvanizes the debate. we have three outstanding speakers, panelists i should say. our first is the head of the class action practice he has litigated and defended countless class actions including over 20 dismissals of class action cases. see may have a sense of where his position is on that. he is a graduate of georgetown undergraduate and the university of virginia law school where he was on the l