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We are posting a two-part panel today on part-time and irregular work schedules in the United States, with WIP regular contributors Christine Williams and Martha Crowley responding to a recent New York Times article by WIP favorite Steven Greenhouse.

Based on her qualitative research on low-wage service work, Christine discusses how irregular work schedules operate as a mechanism to reproduce gender and racial inequality in the workplace.

Martha discusses recent efforts of women’s and labor groups to introduce legislation allowing workers to have more predictable schedules if desired. She cites evidence that irregular schedules are particularly damaging to low-wage workers and that more stable work schedules would benefit workers and employers.

by Lori Nishiura Mackenzie

The CEOs of Best Buy, Yahoo!, and Hewlett Packard all nixed flexible work policies in response to financial downturns. “During this critical turnaround period, HP needs all hands on deck,” said Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman. “[T]he more employees we get into the office, the better company we will be.”

In times of economic woe, “non-essential” programs and people are eliminated, and programs to support workers are often ended or drastically scaled back. Employee flexibility is typically considered one of these “luxuries.” In tough markets, employees are supposed to work harder, longer and more devotedly to renew corporate vitality.

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I have noticed there is little overlap between scholars studying organizations, occupations, and work and those studying environmental sociology.  Then I fortuitously received a paper in my email in-box from my WSU colleague, Gene Rosa, his graduate student Kyle Knight, and their collaborator, sociological economist Juliet Schor (the paper wasn’t intended for me, but an email address error landed it in my in-box!).  I read the paper with interest and think OOW members can benefit from knowing about it so we can build collaborations with environmental scholars and add more substance to the argument about the need for employers to redefine and redesign work. Read More