Tom Juravich takes us behind the statistics of the economic collapse and into the work and lives of Americans who feel like they are being sacrificed At the Altar of the Bottom Line.

At the Altar of the Bottom Line

Media Release

Amherst Massachusetts. A new book by Tom Juravich At the Altar of the Bottom Line Tom Juravich takes us behind the statistics of the economic collapse and into the work and lives of Americans who feel stressed, exploited, exhausted and abandoned.

“From what I was seeing around me and hearing from my friends and neighbors I had a strong sense that the work in American was deteriorating very quickly,” tells Juravich speaking about why he began the project. “And I knew I wasn’t going to be able to understand it from looking at statistics or from searching the internet in my office at the university.” Over six years Juravich conducted 85 in-depth interviews in four different occupations. “The interviews were so compelling,” he recalls, “in some ways the hardest thing I had to do is call it quits.”

Juravich puts workers voices front and center is this examination of the degradation of work in the 21st century. He takes us to a Verizon call center where call center reps are forced to use narrow scripts, monitored through the day by their supervisors, required to raise the hands if they need to use the bathroom and forced to work massive amounts of mandatory overtime. “This was not the way work was supposed to be at a Fortune 500 firm in the 21st Century,” tells Juravich.

In the fish houses in New Bedford, the conditions that undocumented Guatemalan workers suffer in the fish house are right out of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Juravich had been working in the community several years when the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) showed up with over 600 agents for massive raid. “The inhumanity of the raid was unfathomable in a country like the U. S.” Juravich suggests. “It had a cruel impact on immigrant families and drove workers down further into the underground economy where conditions were even worse.”

In the operating rooms at the Boston Medical Center, Juravich found nurses, “who were exhausted to the bone.” Since a merger the hospital has been pushing elective surgery to generate more revenue without staffing up the operating rooms with more nurses. Juravich tells how “the nurses continue to be so committed to their patients and to each other but their compassion can’t make up for a staffing situation that is out of control.”

The final case study explores the closing of the Jones Beloit in Dalton, Massachusetts. Highly skilled workers making high quality machinery used all over the world was abruptly shutdown when their CEO recklessly pursued a dubious foreign investment which placed the entire firm in jeopardy. “These were workers who gave their lives to this firm and in the end they were simply abandoned,” Juravich describes.

Juravich is also an accomplished musician and he wrote a series of songs based on the interviews he did for the book and are included on a CD included with the book. “So many of these interviews were full of material that songwriters only dream about.” He also used these songs as the basis for a series of audio documentaries that feature the voice of many of the people he interviewed. This multi-media project is rounded out with striking photographs taken by Paul Shoul. “I was so privileged to work with Paul. We started working together very early on this project and because he was part of so many interviews, I think he captures something very genuine in his photographs.”