In The Disposable American, The New York Times business reporter Louis Uchitelle aims to dispel the myth that layoffs -- while painful for employees -- are beneficial for businesses and most workers in the long run. The conventional thinking is that over the long haul corporations become more profitable and efficient following layoffs. Displaced workers get new skills and training for a changing landscape, and the economy benefits from this natural weeding process.
Not true, says Uchitelle. He exposes the weakness of these arguments in an examination of blue- and white-collar employees -- including a former Procter & Gamble IT executive. Arguing that layoffs undermine our economy and do serious harm to workers' psyches and careers, Uchitelle urges stockholders, CEOs and managers to stop resorting to massive layoffs. He suggests some solutions, including public disclosure and following The Boeing Co. model. The company once gave workers the opportunity to suggest ways to save money before issuing pink slips. ($25.95, 304 pages)
Megan Santosus, a former senior editor at CIO Decisions, is now a features editor for SearchDataCenter.com. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This was first published in September 2006