We’ve received a new book at the Workers’ Center, Lisa Dodson’s The Moral Underground: How Ordinary Americans Subvert an Unfair Economy. Dodson, now a sociology professor at Boston College, has been an obstetrical nurse, a union activist and the director of the Division of Women’s Health for the state of Massachusetts.
When Dodson began her research for this book, she intended to track how an unfair economy affects low wage earners. But an early subject, the manager of a food company in the Midwest filled out her survey and remarked ‘Aren’t you going to ask me about how this affects me?’ Much to Dodson’s surprise, the food manager was not worried about how a poor economy threatened his personal financial security but was deeply stressed by overseeing employees who he knew made too little to adequately care for their families. Thus began Dodson’s inquiry into how social justice mavericks pull strings at their workplaces to help low wage earners.
One manager at a big box retailer was sympathetic when one of her worker’s teenaged daughter, a young woman who had worked through high school to contribute to the family’s well-being, was unable to afford a prom dress. In rural Maine, where these people live, the high school prom is an important step towards adulthood. The manager looked the other way when unsold dresses were boxed up to be sent back to the warehouse.
The food business manager mentioned above distributed dinged cans and bread with ripped bags to his employees instead of sending them back to the warehouse or throwing them out; instead of insisting that employees punch out if they needed to leave work to take their kids to a doctor’s appointment, he punched out for them at their scheduled leave time.
I won’t give away any more of the book in case this has piqued your interest in it. What a good feeling: that there are many people among us, taking small — and large — risks for the people they work with. If you read the book, send us a comment or a review. Happy reading!