Tilly on What It Will Take to Improve Retail Jobs

The U.S. retail industry has been rocked by COVID-19, but the momentary spotlight on essential workers shows little sign of bringing lasting improvements to their work lives, according to an article co-written by Urban Planning Chair Chris Tilly. Only regulatory pressure promises to strengthen protections for retail workers, Tilly and co-author Françoise Carré concluded in the piece for the Good Companies, Good Jobs Initiative. The COVID-19 shutdown, along with rapid technological change, has triggered high levels of unemployment and undermined employer interest in basic job improvement measures, they wrote. On the tech front, “the e-commerce boom is most obvious, but a less visible — and quite ominous — shift is the spread of worker surveillance,” which has led to complaints that faulty systems have been used to discipline employees unfairly. Tilly and Carré are co-authors of the 2017 book “Where Bad Jobs Are Better” and collaborated on a chapter in 2020’s “Creating Good Jobs: An Industry-Based Strategy.”


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