The Way We Build

Restoring Dignity to Construction Work
Author: Mark Erlich
The past, present, and future of construction work
Cloth – $110
978-0-252-04519-6
Paper – $22.95
978-0-252-08733-2
eBook – $14.95
978-0-252-05457-0
Publication Date
Paperback: 07/18/2023
Cloth: 07/18/2023
Buy the Book Request Desk/Examination Copy Request Review Copy Request Rights or Permissions Request Alternate Format Preview

About the Book

The construction trades once provided unionized craftsmen a route to the middle class and a sense of pride and dignity often denied other blue-collar workers. Today, union members still earn wages and benefits that compare favorably to those of college graduates. But as union strength has declined over the last fifty years, a growing non-union sector offers lower compensation and more hazardous conditions, undermining the earlier tradition of upward mobility. Revitalization of the industry depends on unions shedding past racial and gender discriminatory practices, embracing organizing, diversity, and the new immigrant workforce, and preparing for technological changes.

Mark Erlich blends long-view history with his personal experience inside the building trades to explain one of our economy’s least understood sectors. Erlich’s multifaceted account includes the dynamics of the industry, the backdrop of union policies, and powerful stories of everyday life inside the trades. He offers a much-needed overview of construction’s past and present while exploring roads to the future.

About the Author

Mark Erlich is a Wertheim Fellow at the Harvard Labor and Worklife Program and the retired Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. His books include Labor at the Ballot Box: The Massachusetts Prevailing Wage Campaign of 1988 and With Our Hands: The Story of Carpenters in Massachusetts.

Reviews


Blurbs

“Having been a carpenter, dynamic union leader, and observer and writer of labor history, Mark Erlich's experience provides unique and incisive perspective on the challenges facing workers, management and government in the construction industry. This book is required reading for anyone who cares about the future of construction and the wider community dependent on it.”--David Weil, Professor, Heller School, Brandeis University and former Administrator, US Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division in the Obama administration

“A fascinating and incisive analysis of construction. The author’s extensive experience as a carpenter, superintendent, and union leader give him an intimate knowledge of the industry. He shows how unions transform tough construction jobs into rewarding middle-class careers. A must-read for industry practitioners, trade unionists, and ‘future of work’ enthusiasts.”--Jeff Grabelsky, The Worker Institute at Cornell ILR School