Steven Greenhouse

Steven Greenhouse was a New York Times reporter for 31 years, including 19 as its labor and workplace reporter. He is author of Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor, published by Knopf in August 2019. 

Recent Articles

Connecting Public Transit to Great Manufacturing Jobs

Madeline Janis, who pioneered local hiring agreements, is now enlisting cities to have railcars and buses made in America—by union workers.

This article appears in the Spring 2018 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . screen_shot_2017-07-19_at_4.28.52_pm.png After 17 years heading a labor-community alliance in Los Angeles, Madeline Janis had developed a reputation as one of the nation’s most innovative strategists on behalf of workers. Janis and her coalition had pushed through the nation’s broadest living wage law. She helped devise a strategy to get hundreds of minority workers hired on long-segregated construction projects. She helped invent the concept of “community benefits agreements,” which pressured real-estate and retail developers to hire workers from poor neighborhoods and to promise not to oppose unionization. And she spearheaded an effort that slashed truck pollution at the nation’s largest seaport, while making it easier for port truck drivers to unionize. But notwithstanding her impressive track record, something was nagging at Janis, long the director of...

What Does the Tax Bill Do for Low-Income Workers?

Basically, nothing. But will that be sufficient to peel away voters?

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images
Imagine a low-wage worker, perhaps one who voted for Donald Trump. This worker is getting nothing from the huge Trump-GOP tax plan. This worker won’t benefit from phasing out the estate tax. Nor will this worker gain from eliminating the Alternate Minimum Tax or from reducing the business pass-through tax from 39.6 percent to 25 percent. And because working class people can’t afford to invest in stocks or mutual funds, they won’t be among the lucky folks who receive bigger dividend checks after the corporate income tax is cut from 35 percent to 20 percent. This worker toils hard day after day, juggling two kids and a job that pays just above the minimum wage. She was understandably thrilled to hear that Ivanka Trump was pushing to increase the child tax credit. It’s slated to go to $1,600 per family from the current maximum of $1,000. But this larger child tax credit won’t help her at all even as it is extended for the first time to families making $150,...

Driverless Future?

If they ever get the bugs out, autonomous cars will put a lot of human drivers out of work.

AP Photo/Jared Wickerham
This article will appear in the Spring 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Five to ten years from now, Uber hopes, the following will be an everyday occurrence: A driverless Uber car pulls up at Nick and Nicole Smith’s house at 7:30 in the morning. Their two kids, Julia, 16, and Joey, 14, hop into the car, and it then drops them off at school. The Uber car returns to the Smiths’ suburban home, picks up Nick and Nicole, and drops Nicole at the train station to catch the 7:55 into the city. The car then drives 40 minutes to drop off Nick at his company’s headquarters nestled in an office park. During the drive, Nick uses his laptop to answer emails and finish a PowerPoint. At 5:00 that afternoon, a driverless Uber car picks up Julia from field hockey practice and Joey from baseball practice and takes them home. Meanwhile, Uber has sent another car to pick up Dad at the office park at 5:30, and that car makes it to the train station in time to...

Beyond Carrier: Can Congress End the Green Light for Outsourcing?

Donald Trump’s unusual deal with Carrier Corp. to keep 800 jobs in the U.S. alarmed many economists, but it points to the need for a corporate norm that doesn’t tilt toward outsourcing.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
trickle-downers.jpg While millions of Americans were thrilled to see President-elect Trump strong-arm the Carrier Corporation into keeping its Indianapolis plant open, numerous economists, commentators, and lawmakers denounced the deal. Some condemned it as crony capitalism, because Carrier will receive $7 million in state incentives as part of its agreement not to send 800 threatened jobs to Mexico. Others voiced alarm that Trump was singling out and bullying an individual company. One of the deal’s most prominent critics was Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury secretary, who wrote an opinion piece with the headline, “Trump’s Carrier deal could permanently damage American capitalism. ” Summers wrote, “I have always thought of American capitalism as dominantly rule and law based.” But in the Carrier case, Summers noted, Trump was smashing the rules and predictability that companies and economies rely on. The president-elect was instead engaging in...

Trump's Carrier Pigeons

The fear of Donald Trump's wrath may have been the biggest factor prompting Carrier to drop plans to move its Indianapolis plant to Mexico. Had President Obama gone that route, Republicans would have assailed him for meddling in the free market.

(Photo: AP/Darron Cummings)
Something in President-elect Donald Trump’s deal to save 800 Carrier jobs doesn’t add up. When Carrier announced in February that it would shutter its Indianapolis factory and move the operation to Monterrey, Mexico, it said the move would save $65 million a year. When you pay your Indiana workers $22 an hour on average and pay your workers in Mexico $3 an hour, that saves a lot of money. During the presidential campaign, Trump had singled out Carrier for attack, railing against it for turning its back on America. Trump even vowed to somehow keep 100 percent of the Carrier jobs in Indiana. To help Trump save the 800 jobs, Indiana officials agreed this week to give Carrier $7 million in state incentives over a decade. That’s a lot less than the $65 million that Carrier would save annually by moving operations to Mexico. This raises questions about what really persuaded Carrier to keep these jobs in Indiana. Carrier and its parent company, United Technologies,...