Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Layoffs - A Problem, Not A Solution

That's the thesis of a new book by NYT economics writer, Louis Uchitelle, The Disposable American. At least as portrayed in the review by Thomas Geoghegan, a labor lawyer and author. What is often the automatic solution to a business problem (or a lagging stock price) -- a layoff of employees -- is really a "wound in triplicate":

It hollows out companies so they can't compete. It hollows out the country by removing middle-class jobs. It hollows out the middle-class employees who are laid off and then too often drop permanently to a demeaning, low-wage way of life.

I will reserve judgment until I have read the book, but it is abundantly clear there is no lack of research materials. Just from the current 1st page of a google news search for "layoffs":
Order is suspended as layoffs continue
GM's losses, layoffs, buyouts: What next?
Layoffs, cuts in Ocean Township school budget
Layoffs coming to Saginaw School District
Mayor Mum on Rumored Layoffs
GM announces white collar layoffs
Camden warns of school layoffs
The same search makes clear it is not just an American phenomenon.

The relationship between employers and employees is in flux and if the book does nothing more than shed light on another aspect of that development, it will be worth reading.

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