The April 2015 Atlantic contains an article by Kim Phillips-Fein entitled Why Workers Won’t Unite that provides a strong discussion of trends in underemployment, and why society is having a difficult time providing a unified response to this trend even as it happens before our eyes. Phillips-Fein does a very good job of contrasting how labor pushed for systemic change during past crises with the present situation, where labor is defanged and where strategies for improving the situation are discussed academically, but not lowered into the den of political action. Some quotes:
Today, the labor movement’s decline is widely considered an irreversible reality– the inevitable outcome of globalization and automation, and the norm for a post-industrial economy, hardly worthy of comment.
..a narrow focus on skill building is an inadequate approach to tackling inequities, especially in an economy increasingly premised on short-term employment.
The realities of politics, visions of quality of life and labor power have changed so fundamentally that we are entering a space where our search for solutions is all about pioneering entirely new strategies; underemployment is a slippery slope that, like the gently heated water in a lobster pot, may just burn us far before disruptive events goad us into really responding like we mean it.