Sleeping Giant: How the New Working Class Will Transform America

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9780385539777: Sleeping Giant: How the New Working Class Will Transform America

There was a time when America’s working class was seen as the backbone of the American economy, having considerable political, economic, and moral authority. But the working class we have now—far more female and racially diverse and employed by the fast food, retail, health care, and other service industries—has been marginalized, if not ignored, by politicians and pundits. This is changing, swiftly and dramatically.  

Today’s working class is a sleeping giant. And as Tamara Draut makes abundantly clear, it is just now waking up to its untapped political power. Sleeping Giant is the first major examination of the new working class and the role it will play in our economic and political future. Blending moving individual narratives, historical background, and sophisticated analysis, Draut forcefully argues that this newly energized class is far along in the process of changing America for the better.

Draut examines the legacy of exclusion based on race and gender that contributes to the invisibility of the new working class, despite their entwinement in everyone’s day-to-day life. No longer confined to the assembly line, today’s working class watches our children and cares for our parents. They park our cars, screen our luggage, clean our offices, and cook and serve our meals. They are us. 

With “Fight for $15” minimum-wage protests popping up throughout the country (and in some places winning) and economic inequality being recognized as one of the defining issues of our time, today’s working class will soon become impossible to ignore and foolish to dismiss. Sleeping Giant is the first book to tell the story of this extraordinary transformation in full and inspiring detail.

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About the Author:

TAMARA DRAUT is the Vice President of Policy and Research at Demos, a national think tank headquartered in New York City, and is the author of Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead. Draut's research and writing at Demos have garnered extensive media coverage, including citations and appearances in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Newsweek, the Chicago Sun Times, the Baltimore Sun, the Des Moines Register, The Atlantic, the Christian Science Monitor, and many others. Draut is a regular commentator on working- and middle-class issues and has appeared on the The Colbert ReportThe Today Show, the network evening news programs, and several CNN, MSNBC and Fox programs, including The O'Reilly Factor.

Review:

Praise for Sleeping Giant:

"Read Sleeping Giant. It is raw. It is honest. And it is powerful. It is about the conversation we need to have in this country." 
— Senator Elizabeth Warren
“Books about the state of the American working class do not usually fill me with optimism, but Tamara Draut's thorough and lively report on the ‘new working class’ that inhabits our ‘bargain basement economy’ is a big exception!”
—Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed, Founder of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project

Sleeping Giant sets the record straight about what most American workers face every day—and what it's going to take to win a future where everyone who works hard in our country can thrive. Tamara Draut is telling the stories of today's working families, especially the growing and diverse group of service and care workers, whose stories politicians and other policymakers need to hear. These workers are demanding a better future for themselves and their children, through movements like the Fight for 15.”
—Mary Kay Henry, President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
 
“On the eve of the financial crisis, Tamara Draut provided a stirring picture with Strapped of the stagnating wages and rising personal debt that was creating a more unequal—and unstable—economy. Now, a decade later, she’s issuing an equally important and hopefully equally prescient message: America’s diverse new working class is ready to be mobilized behind a bold agenda for economic and political reform. In our populist time, her call could not be more relevant or vital.”
—Jacob S. Hacker, co-author of American Amnesia and Winner-Take-All Politics
 
 “This is quite simply the best analysis yet of the difficult challenges and dynamic potential of today’s working class. It’s also a wonderful read that will leave you both moved and hopeful.”
—Bob Herbert, Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos and former Op-Ed Columnist for the New York Times 

“Tamara Draut's new book is a wonderful tribute to working people. By offering a fresh and insightful new look at work in America—who's doing it, how it's changed, and why we should care, she helps us understand where everyone from the caregiver to the sanitation worker is situated, and offers a blueprint for a better life for all of us. “
—Ai-jen Poo, Director of National Domestic Workers Alliance, Co-Director of Caring Across Generations and author of Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America

“A close examination of the plight of the working class, the decline of organized labor's political power, and the stirrings of activism that indicate change may be on the way. Draut pulls no punches in her analysis.... Readers who concur that we have a ‘neoliberal economic system that is systematically rotten to the core’ will welcome Draut's impassioned report.”
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