Betrayal of Work

Betrayal of Work

  1. Question One

The main theme of the book focuses on the how low wage jobs are affecting the lives of many Americans and eventual aggravation of gap between the haves and have-nots. As the title of the book suggests, Betrayal of Work, a good number of Americans workers are failed by low wage jobs leaving them struggling to make the end meet and support their family. According to the author, Beth Schulman, the book’s theme focus on some 30 million workers who are held up in low wages, low benefits jobs whose jobs are described as low skilled. The target workers in his book are those that earn less than the federal poverty level of about 9 dollars per hour for a four member family. Some of the focused types of the job include ambulance drivers, retail clerks, pharmacy assistants, agricultural workers, call-center operators, janitors and among others. She claimed that the workers in these categories are on a full-time basis, yet they make no living and cannot afford a decent life. In this regard, the book exhibits how these workers are neglected in the Unites States, and how despite the vast wealth of the country the workers in the US have lower living standards compared to other industrialized nations. Moreover, she focuses on how low-income jobs would continue to increase the disparity between the rich and the poor eventually destabilizing the country.



  1. Question Two

Most of the materials such as the examples from the survey she conducted, facts and figure from the previous surveys and among other materials support the Schulman’s original thesis. For instance, from the review of a previous study, she claims that most of the low-wages job workers rare have benefits regarding the medical insurance cover, paid vacations, sick pays, retirement pension and among other benefits. Moreover, her research claimed that most of the working conditions are unfavorable due to intimidation by supervisors and fear of losing the job. Concerning evidence from the materials, they support her claim that low-wage jobs are failing millions of Americans.  Furthermore, chapter 10-12 supports her thesis since they provide the repercussions of failure to address this issue. She postulates that vicious cycle may arise due to the failure of controlling this issue leading to the children of the low-wage jobs workers fall into the same poverty trap. Additionally, the evidence of increasing danger of instability in the country due to the increase in the gap between the rich and the poor also supports her claim as to why care should be taken.

  1. Question Three

The example of low-income workers addressed are majorly whites, females, high school level people and with responsibilities of family. Under these categories, the author uses specific examples in her book such as cooks, waiters and waitresses, cashiers and pharmacy assistants, and fish and meat processors. Further, he include also operators of laundry and dry cleaning, agricultural employees, data entry clerks, aides in home health, security guard child caretakers, and call centers operators among others. All of these workers in their respective specialty are in the category of low-income jobs as well as most of them are on a full-time basis. Therefore, these examples perfectly fit in her thesis on a low wage and low benefits jobs fail 30 million workers since they are the mainstream job in the America’s economy that is creating employment. More so, since most of the workers earn below 9 dollars per hour the recommended federal level, they in most cases struggle to make a living. Furthermore, since her focus was people who are semi-skilled or low skilled with family responsibilities, these examples align well with her thesis. In addition, most of the workers in this categories work on the principle that the current job is a stepping stone to another better job. However, this is a lie since according to the survey conducted, the author postulated that those whose earning a 20 percent in 1968 were still in the same group in 1991. And of those that there were changes, about two-third, remained below the median income. For instance, the a cook or a janitor may think after some times of working he or she may graduate to a high level, but due to low skills they end up struggling in low-wage jobs for years.

  1. Question Four

Beth Schulman’s book has various strengths that make it powerful. First, the book reviews various surveys conducted regarding workers welfare hence it uses figure and facts to present the argument. Also, the author uses the first-hand information from the survey she conducted to get the overview of the targeted respondents. Moreover, the book presents the facts plainly about the injustices encountered by 30 million Americans who commit themselves full time and fails to make a living wage. Additionally, the book provides a recommendation on how structural changes may be achieved in the economy hence expanding the Americans opportunities. However, the book has weaknesses in the sense that it fails to address whether those in low-income job graduates to higher wages if they continue with education while working. Also, it does not fully explain the policies suggested towards increasing minimum pay and the roles of private employers on the issue. The most compelling element in the book is how the low wage job worker lacks basic package in their remunerations such as medical cover, pension, and vacation off and among other basics. Moreover, the harsh treatment environmental condition and harsh supervisors exhibit the poor working environment that requires intervention by the government, even though the wages may not improve. Additionally, the vicious cycle of low-wage job workers and their children following the same poverty line is most compelling. Nonetheless, the least compelling element is the claim that low-wage jobs may lead to dualism in the already divided country.

  1. Question Five

According to my experience due to interaction with various people, many of the issues that Beth focuses on the book are real. Most of the low-income job workers experience a lot of difficulties in supporting their families, and the matters become worse if the money demanding event arises such as health. Furthermore, a good number these workers never have enough leisure time and if it is available, the mostly spend it indoors due to insufficient funds to have a vacation. Also, their morale towards their job is low and in most cases they look depressed since their money is inadequate, most of the time they are working and thus they cannot have another side hustle job to earn some extra cash. In this regard, they end up developing health related issues such as ulcers, depression, and other illnesses. Alternatively, some of them join illegal groups such as gangs or drug cartels in order t raise funds to meet the escalating family needs.   For instance, one of my friend’s cousins was working as a waiter in one of the famous hotels in town. She worked for ten hours daily and had a day off every Tuesday, but this off was not favorable since she could resume job early Wednesday morning. In the course of her work, she fell on the staircase and got a severe head injury that culminated to stroke. This scenario raises an alarm to almost all the people in the neighborhood since the hotel could not cater for her medical needs since she was a junior worker. This case exhibited how low-wage workers are neglected irrespective of their effort to meet the company’s objective.

  1. Question Six

One of the most affordable and favorable ways of solving most of the low-wage workers problems is providing them with the basic benefits such as the health cover, contribution to the pension scheme and minimize their working hours.  By providing these benefits, it will reduce the expense incurred by the workers and thus increase their disposable income. For instance, since health cost is enormous, by providing the workers with family health cover would greatly reduce his health burden cost and thus free up some amount for other basic needs. Also, by contributing a substantial among to the pension scheme, this would significantly reduce the retirement stress that disturbs many workers hence boosting even their morale. Moreover, minimizing the working hours would provide them with plenty of time to rest and maybe invest their little saving hence having another source of income. This method has mutual benefit to the employer and the employees. This is because the employees’ performance will be boosted due to reduced stress of future safety and health issue. The enhance performance may improve the company’s revenues and thus profits.


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