Fat and Mean
The Corporate Squeeze of Working Americans and the Myth of Managerial "Downsizing"
Tracing the overall employment patterns of the past decade, Gordon shows that most American companies actually employ more managers and supervisors than ever before. These ever-increasing functionaries control company payrolls and pay themselves generous salariesat the expense of average workers. For despite a steadily growing economy the real wages of the American worker have been falling for the past 20 years. To explain this decline and the much-debated "wage gap" that resulted, pundits and professors invoke various causes ranging from the flow of production jobs overseas to the average worker's lack of the technological skills needed in today's "knowledge economy." But Gordon exposes the single greatest factor in this decline, a corporate strategy that penalizes line workers and hinders businesses from competing effectively in world markets: the simultaneous overstaffing of management hierarchies and the inadequate compensation of workers.
Instead of sharing profits with their employees, thus encouraging them to work harder, management has more often opted to prod workers by instilling fear of layoffs. Gordon unerringly plots the shortsighted and disastrous course of U.S. corporations, and documents the tremendous social and personal costs to their employees. Yet in addition to telling the harsh truth about downsizing, he suggests policies to ensure fairer business practices. Wages can increase
indeed, they mustas the economy begins to perform more efficiency.
U.S. corporations have become fat and mean. They need to become lean and decentnot just for the sake of their workers, but for the sake of their competitive advantage. This provocative and original book shows how they can.
Read an Excerpt
THE WAGE SQUEEZE
For years Craig Miller had been a sheet-metal worker at a major airline. After he lost his job in 1992, he and his wife -- parents of four kids -- had to scramble. Craig took on two lower-paying jobs and started a small sideline business. His wife worked nights as a stock clerk. They were patching together, counting his business, four part-time jobs and they were still earning less than half Craig's previous paycheck.
"Sure we've got four jobs," Craig told a reporter. "So what? So you can work like a dog for $5 an hour?"
The Miller family saga is hardly unique. Since the mid-1970s,... see more