Barbara Ehrenreich and United Professionals

Thursday night, my husband and I attended a talk and reading by Barbara Ehrenreich. She is the author of Bait and Switch and Nickel and Dimed, among a number of other books. To write Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich took on a series of blue-collar/minimum wage sorts of jobs, each for a month at a time, and then wrote about these experiences. I’ve not read the book so I can’t speak with too much authority on it but I think she did more than take on job after job, I think she tried to immerse herself in the culture of each job (as much as she could for those short periods of time) by living within the budget of the job salary, moving, etc. Her most recent book, Bait and Switch, is an investigation into white-collar unemployment, based on her experience of job hunting posing as a qualified job seeker.

Ehrenreich’s experiences in writing these two books has fueled a passion in her to do something concrete to help the “unemployed, underemployed and anxiously employed worker.“ Part of her action plan is the development of United Professionals. It is just getting up and running but her vision for it is a nonprofit nonpartisan membership organization that can provide networking, group health insurance, support, and advocacy. Chapters are forming across the country, including here in Minneapolis. For any of you who may be interested, here’s the website:

This event was sponsored by Majors and Quinn, one of the few remaining independent bookstores in Minneapolis and St. Paul.