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

Taking Trump’s Populism Seriously

While the Donald had a powerful message for white workers, Clinton failed to convey a robust pro-worker stance.

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
In small cities and towns across the nation, working-class whites unloosed a thunderbolt on Tuesday, giving a stunning victory to Donald Trump. “A primal scream,” was how David Axelrod described it. Working-class whites were clearly angry—about stagnating incomes, shuttered factories, and a perception that Washington was rigged against them. And they largely lined up behind Donald Trump, the candidate who voiced and channeled their anger, and not behind Hillary Clinton, a far more cerebral and measured candidate. By promising to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, to impose a 35 percent tariff on cars assembled in Mexico and to get tough on China trade, Trump came across as a raging fighter for American workers—even if the solutions he offered, such as tariffs that could spark a trade war, could plunge the nation into recession and hurt American workers more than help them. Clinton, in contrast, came across as a smart, not-at-all angry public servant with...

On Demand, and Demanding Their Rights

Gig workers in the Uber economy are organizing to win more say over their jobs—and writing a new chapter in American labor history.

Anthony Behar/Sipa via AP Images
This article appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Travis Kalanick, Uber’s founder, recently recalled that when he first started the company seven years ago, “it was easy to communicate with the handful of drivers using the app.” Uber’s marketing manager called each of the drivers regularly, Kalanick said, “to get their feedback and make sure things were working well.” Nowadays, Uber has far more than a handful of drivers—it has more than 400,000 in the United States alone, and many drivers complain that Uber’s managers no longer listen to them to make sure things are working well. “They do whatever they want,” said Bigu Haider, an Uber driver in New York who is furious at Uber over fare cuts and other moves that have reduced his income. “I don’t see any voice for the drivers.” Such heartfelt complaints are heard across much of the digital on-demand economy,...

A Safety Net for On-Demand Workers?

A new paper suggests how to better regulate the gig economy, but the plan may only reinforce its worst abuses. 

For many Americans who care about how workers are treated, their biggest concern about the much-ballyhooed “on-demand” economy is the way that Uber, Lyft, and other “gig economy” companies have rushed to treat their workers as independent contractors. For employers, the advantages of this strategy are huge (as I explain in my deep dive for the Prospect about Uber’s questionable labor practices): You don’t have to follow minimum wage, overtime, or employment discrimination laws, you don’t have to make employer contributions to Social Security, Medicare, or unemployment insurance, and your workers can’t unionize. A new paper , released on Monday, has some provocative recommendations about how to deal with this phenomenon—the nation’s oh-so-cool on-demand companies scurrying to dodge all or nearly all responsibilities and obligations to their workers. The paper posits that workers who get their work through an app or platform...

On the Road to Nowhere

Uber drivers are getting creative in their fight for basic workplace rights. 

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File
This article will appear in the Winter 2016 issue of The American Prospect magazine . Subscribe here . Last August 31, Takele Gobena, an Uber driver, stood alongside Seattle City Councilman Mike O’Brien at a news conference, complaining that his Uber earnings came to less than the federal minimum wage after factoring in gas, insurance, and other costs. At the press conference, Gobena, a 26-year-old immigrant from Ethiopia, hailed O’Brien’s plan to introduce legislation that would allow Seattle’s Uber and Lyft drivers to unionize and bargain collectively, even though those companies insist their drivers are independent contractors and not employees. A half-dozen drivers flanked O’Brien, holding signs saying, “Drivers need a voice.” Toward the end of his remarks , Gobena, a member of the App-Based Drivers Association, said, “I know Uber will probably deactivate me tomorrow, but I’m ready because this is worth fighting for.” It...

Offshoring Silicon Valley

American computer software engineers go the way of factory workers.

In The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker, Steven Greenhouse, the veteran New York Times labor writer, provides a panoramic picture of American workers struggling with an economic order that demands more of them while offering them less -- less income, less security, less leisure time, less dignity -- in return. One of the sectors he reports on -- high-tech -- was supposed to be one part of the economy where American workers could still flourish. Over the past decade, however, that has proven not to be the case. --Harold Meyerson The e-mail seemed innocent enough, but something about it worried Myra Bronstein. It instructed her and the 17 other quality-assurance engineers -- a fancy term for software testers -- to report to the company's boardroom the next morning. No way that can be good , she told herself. At the time, Myra, then 47, was a senior quality-assurance engineer at WatchMark, a company that developed sophisticated software for cell phone companies. She and...