How Big Is the Fissured Workplace?

By David Weil 
RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences,
December 2019.

When I was working on the manuscript for The Fissured Workplace, I sought a term to capture the profound business restructuring that was emerging in a variety of industries. Those changes included but were not limited to the offshoring, outsourcing, and use of staffing agencies that led to work characterized by low wages, noncompliance with core workplace statutes, limited benefits, more contingent employment, greater risk exposure, and weakened bargaining leverage for workers in general. 

I purposefully chose a somewhat obscure geologic term as the metaphor for this fragmentation to highlight that the practices associated with fissuring arose from a more fundamental change in how businesses structured themselves beginning in the 1980s. In this article, I discuss the challenges of measuring the extent of the fissured workplace and provide a conservative measure of it.

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David Weil is Dean and Professor at Brandeis University’s Heller School of Social Policy and Management. He served as US Wage and Hour Administrator at the Department of Labor during the last three years of the Obama administration. He is a leading international expert on workplace and labor market policy and was the Peter and Deborah Wexler Professor of Management at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business before coming to Brandeis. The materials on this site arise from analysis contained in The Fissured Workplace and a growing body of research regarding the fundamental restructuring of employment and its impacts on workers and businesses. It also discusses approaches to dealing with the fissured workplace developed during the Obama administration as well as new ideas and efforts being discussed and undertaken today. 


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