Friday, February 19, 2010

Low Wage Workers Lose an Advocate: Beth Shulman

ShulmanPatrick S. O'Donnell, a friend of the blog and contributor at Ratio Juris, passes on this sad news that Beth Shulman, labor lawyer, author, and advocate for low wage workers passed away earlier this month. From her obituary,

Shulman was the author of "The Betrayal of Work: How Low-Wage Jobs Fail 30 Million Americans," published in 2003 by New Press.

Marshaling a blizzard of statistics and anecdotes collected on her travels around the country, it argued that janitors, hotel maids, security guards, nursing aides and other low-wage workers have reasonably high skills and intelligence and deserve greater respect.

In the book and numerous public appearances, she also argued that minimum-wage jobs have become minimum-wage careers, dead ends that consign workers to permanent poverty.

"Workers feel like they're doing everything America has asked of them -- working hard, taking pride in their work -- but America has broken its promise to them that if they work hard, they can make a living," she told a reporter in 2004.

The book earned some major notices, including one by Anna Quindlen in Newsweek who called it "a damning new book . . . that should be required reading for every presidential candidate and member of Congress."

Beth had been battling a brain tumor and died of complications from pneumonia at only 60 years old. What a terrible loss to the community.


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Marcia, thanks for posting this sad news. A real loss, indeed. Her book was an important contribution -- telling a different story in the age of W -- and still relevant today.

Posted by: David Yamada | Feb 20, 2010 7:39:36 AM

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