Reuters: 'The Big Squeeze: This election year, it’s all about the money'

August 4, 2016

Gary Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark University, is quoted in a Reuters story about America's white- and blue-collar workers feeling angry about  globalization's impact on jobs and income — and how those feelings might be expressed at the polls this fall.

Here, an excerpt:

"This presidential election is, purportedly, the Year of the Angry Voter, with images of scuffles at Trump rallies occupying cable-news screens. But as befitting someone who lives in a place called Middletown, [displaced IT worker Judy] Konopka is more typical of voters: consumed by a stomach-churning uncertainty, a vague sense of something lost, and an inescapable belief that an array of powerful forces—corporations, politicians, government — aren’t looking out for them.

"Economists and pundits have been struggling to explain why, with unemployment below 5 percent and a bounty of positive economic indicators, voters seem so dismayed, so distrustful. It might be something as simple as bargaining power.

"In his best-known book, The Art of the Deal, Trump advises every negotiator to 'use your leverage.' But increasingly, U.S. workers, white-and blue-collar alike, feel they have none. They’ve seen their power erode as they are tossed into a global labor pool, as companies consolidate and shed jobs to please Wall Street, as unions wither, state budgets tighten, technology advances and iconic brands such as Nabisco pack up and move to Mexico.

"The squeeze is on.

" 'There’s a feeling among workers that not only are they replaceable, but that they will be replaced,' says Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University in nearby Worcester, Massachusetts. 'That there is no security anymore, that someone is making a profit by letting them go.'

" 'Trump,' he adds, 'has tapped into that very well.' "