"Help for White-Collar Workers" from a Socialist Writer

The Times' labor reporter profiles a new initiative from a left-wing union and a socialist author - and manages to leave out the politics.

Laborreporter Steven Greenhouse profiles a new initiative from a left-wing union and left-wing writer Barbara Ehrenreich (an honorary co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America) in Thursday's "From Author, Help for White-Collar Workers."

Greenhouse paints the author as a sympathetic sob sister for the jobless. "On a recent book tour, Barbara Ehrenreich, the author of 'Nickel and Dimed,' was nearly brought to tears when an information technology marketer told her of growing so desperate after being laid off that she took a job as a janitor.

"At another reading, a woman complained of an economy so volatile that she did not think of jobs anymore, but of intermittent income streams from tasks like house-sitting and designing Web sites.

"Inspired by such tales, Ms. Ehrenreich has started an organization called United Professionals to help white-collar workers, be they unemployed, uninsured, downsized, stressed out or merely anxious."

He briefly notes the labor backing of the group, and mentions but doesn't pinpoint, the liberal nature of the group's likely agenda: "Based in Washington, the group has received $100,000 in seed money from the Service Employees International Union.

"Bill Holland, the chairman of United Professionals and a former human resources executive at Accenture, the consulting firm, sees the group having chapters in half the 50 states within a year. But some co-founders say the group will grow fastest through the Internet.

"If and when the group achieves critical mass, Ms. Ehrenreich sees it lobbying Congress just as AARP does, probably for universal health insurance and for requiring companies to provide severance when they lay off workers."


"United Professionals may seem a bit like a group of writers eager to promote their books.

"The group's directors and advisers include Mr. Holland, author of 'Are There any Good Jobs Left?'; Jared Bernstein, author of 'All Together Now: Common Sense for a Fair Economy'; and Tamara Draut, author of 'Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead.'"

Greenhouse could have written "liberal writers," but didn't. Bernstein is a liberal economist at the Economic Policy Institute, while Draut is left-leaning, based on the links on her website to pro-Democratic groups.