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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    New York Times Reporter Discusses The Economy

    New York Times labor reporter, Steven Greenhouse, talks about the current day American economy in his book, “The Big Squeeze.”

    On Tuesday, he shared his thoughts and experiences as a writer, and as an advocate for the rights of workers with students.

    “I wrote this book to show the lives of factory workers and blue collar workers and how hard it has become in our generation,” he said.

    Greenhouse uses the phrase “big squeeze” to express the constraints on the labor workers. He described some of the main problems that exist today for the working class. These include a falling economy, a dearth of benefits, and working long hours.

    “In what I call a ‘time squeeze,’ Americans are working 1,800 hours a year and trying harder and harder in order to cling on to that middle class status,” said Greenhouse, “European places are nothing compared to this.”

    There has been an increasing lack of respect in the work areas as well.

    “A computer engineer took his daughter for ‘take your daughter to work day,’ but ended up getting fired right in front of her for doing so,” said Greenhouse.

    Another concern is how companies cheat their workers, for example by using a system of “shaving hours” where companies erase the hours worked by their employees. Wal-Mart also cheats their workers another way.

    “Wal-Mart made a lot of workers work off the clock,” said Greenhouse.

    What is the cause for all these problems?

    “One reason is globalization,” said Greenhouse, “with outsourcing there is an inequality in wages,” he said.

    “With competition from global companies in the 1980s, we started to see lay-offs,” he said.

    Another reason is a decrease in the Nation Union sector. “The union used to be strong and treat their workers better,” said Greenhouse.

    Greenhouse’s journalism beginnings were in Massapequa, where he was the sports editor of his high school newspaper. While attending Wesleyan University, he was the editor-in-chief of the campus paper.

    After school, Greenhouse served as the copy boy at The New York Times. “I literally ran over to the typewriter and transported the story to the editor,” said Greenhouse.

    Following his job at The New York Times, Greenhouse returned to school to get his masters at Columbia in 1975. Afterwards, he began working for smaller papers before returning to The New York Times.

    “They took a chance on the copy boy,” said Greenhouse, “I began on a beat that exploited stories on immigrants and soon enough I became the labor reporter for the metro section and then finally the national labor reporter.” He is currently one of three national labor reporters.

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