On television, Wal-Mart employees are smiling women delighted with their jobs. But reality is another story. In 2000, Betty Dukes, a 52-year-old black woman in Pittsburg, California, became the lead plaintiff in Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores , a class action representing 1.4 million women. In an explosive investigation of this historic lawsuit, journalist Liza Featherstone reveals how Wal-Mart, a self-styled "family-oriented," Christian company:· Deprives women (but not men) of the training they need to advance· Relegates women to lower-paying jobs, like selling baby clothes, reserving the more lucrative positions for men· Inflicts punitive demotions on employees who object to discrimination· Exploits Asian women in its sweatshops in Saipan, a U.S. commonwealthFeatherstone reveals the creative solutions Wal-Mart workers around the country have found-like fighting for unions, living-wage ordinances, and childcare options. Selling Women Short combines the personal stories of these employees with superb investigative journalism to show why women who work low-wage jobs are getting a raw deal, and what they are doing about it.
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Liza Featherstone is a freelance journalist whose work has been featured in the New York Times , the Los Angeles Times , Newsday , Rolling Stone , and the Washington Post , among other publications. She lives in New York City.From Publishers Weekly:
Fortune magazine's "Most Admired Company" for two years running, Wal-Mart offers its customers low prices and its shareholders big profits, but as freelance journalist Featherstone (Students Against Sweatshops) argues, this comes at great cost. Wal-Mart's success is based not only on its inexpensive merchandise or its popularity (Featherstone cites working-class shoppers and Paris Hilton among Wal-Mart's fans) but on bad labor practices. Using a close investigation of the class action suit Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and extensive interviews with female workers, Featherstone indicts Wal-Mart for low wages, discriminatory policies and sexist practices. "[Our] district manager sometimes held lunch meetings at Hooters restaurants," one female employee explains; another recalls being asked to work "off the clock." Failure to post open positions, exclusively male social gatherings, pay discrimination, "persistent segregation of departments"—all are part, she argues, of Wal-Mart's deep-rooted culture of sexism. Many women employed full-time at Wal-Mart make so little that they are dependent on public assistance: "It is curious that Wal-Mart—the icon of American free enterprise and self-sufficiency...—turns out to be one of the biggest 'welfare queens' of our time," Featherstone writes. She doesn't give much time to related topics—racism, exploited overseas labor—but this is a clearly written and compelling book. It may not keep readers from their local Supercenters, but it should make them take a closer look at who's working the register.
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