David Weil, a leading international expert on workplace and labor market policy, provides a bold new perspective on the fundamental restructuring of employment and its impacts on workers and businesses. A longtime professor of economics and management at Boston University School of Management, he was recently appointed US Wage and Hour Administrator at the Department of Labor by President Obama.
In the twentieth century, large companies employing many workers formed the bedrock of the U.S. economy. Today, on the list of big business’s priorities, sustaining the employer-worker relationship ranks far below building a devoted customer base and delivering value to investors. As David Weil’s groundbreaking analysis shows, large corporations have shed their role as direct employers of the people responsible for their products, in favor of outsourcing work to small companies that compete fiercely with one another. The result has been declining wages, eroding benefits, inadequate health and safety protections, and ever-widening income inequality.From the perspectives of CEOs and investors, fissuring—splitting off functions that were once managed internally—has been phenomenally successful. Despite giving up direct control to subcontractors and franchises, these large companies have figured out how to maintain the quality of brand-name products and services, without the cost of maintaining an expensive workforce. But from the perspective of workers, this strategy has meant stagnation in wages and benefits and a lower standard of living. Weil proposes ways to modernize regulatory policies so that employers can meet their obligations to workers while allowing companies to keep the beneficial aspects of this business strategy.