Labor Day for the Modern Workplace


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Anne-Marie Slaughter & Women at Work: Next Revolution

Anne-Marie Slaughter, Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University, declares that while some women have reached society's highest levels of leadership, there is no framework for new generations of women to attain similar accomplishments. Slaughter argues that there needs to be a "revolution" to secure a new era of representation for women.

Sheryl Sandberg: Can Women Have It All?

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg reflects on her own experiences as a mother and a woman in the corporate world to call for social change in the work/home balance between men and women. "We all lose because of this [imbalance]," she says. "We limit women's ability to contribute in the workforce and, even more importantly, we limit men's ability to contribute at home."

Nancy Pelosi: 'Workers Are People, Too'

Minority Leader of the House Nancy Pelosi discusses class warfare at The New Yorker Festival 2011. In response to a claim that "corporations are people, too," she counters, "Workers are people, too!"

Alain de Botton Finds Meaning in the Daily Grind

Author Alain de Botton says routine work allows us to impose order, provides us a distraction from thoughts of deaths and permits us to be something "slightly better than we manage to be in our day-to-day life."

Alain de Botton: Sexual Attraction at the Office

Author Alain de Botton discusses the taboo of sexual relations between coworkers.

He draws comparisons between the Catholic Church’s stance on sex to the polices found at many places of work. "What the large corporation has to deny is the idea that sex might be more fun than work," says Botton.

Alain de Botton: Lessons from a Biscuit Factory

Alain de Botton, author of The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, discusses lessons he learned from observing workers at a United Biscuits factory in the UK.

According to Botton, highly specialized jobs lead to a sense of aimlessness in many workers. "The problem of the modern world...is it becomes very, very hard to see the impacts that you have on anybody's life."

When Work's a Game: Increased Productivity

Byron Reeves, the Paul C. Edwards Professor in Stanford University's Department of Communication, shows how scientists are measuring psychophysiological responses to arouse the productivity of employees at work. Reeves believes that by tapping into a brand narrative, employees will be more engaged, active workers.

Working Class American Dream Threatened by Union Busting

SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina cautions that the opportunities for the working class are under attack by ballot measures that restrict labor unions.

Cleavage at Work? A New Dress Code for Professional Women

Communication consultant Audrey Nelson chastises the working women she sees wearing "postage-stamp sized skirts" and baring cleavage in professional environments.

"Nothing will erode your credibility quicker," she warns.

John Gray: We're Losing Alpha Males to Feminized Men

John Gray, author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, explains how estrogen levels in men are on the rise and how this is not necessarily a good thing.

Alain de Botton Finds Humanity & Humor in HR Department

Alain de Botton, author of The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, gives a hilarious account of his experience with the HR department at an accounting firm.

Although prepared to be sarcastic, de Button found sincerity and kindness in company songs and the "24-hour anti-bullying hotline."

Could Immigration Policy Deport the Next Albert Einstein?

Dulce Matuz, president of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, questions how America will remain competitive in STEM fields if undocumented students with an education in science are not allowed to work in the United States.

Mike Rowe's Dirtiest Job? Replacing the Poop Pump

Mike Rowe has had dirty jobs in the past, but nothing quite like his memorable visit (for all the wrong reasons) to a San Francisco sewage treatment facility.  

Matthew B. Crawford: Making the Case for Skilled Trade

Philosopher and mechanic Matthew Crawford defends trade work as more cognitively stimulating than society recognizes.

He considers manual labor to be not only more satisfying to human nature than white-collar work, but often more creative and mentally taxing.

Craig Nathanson: Designing Your Perfect Work Day

Vocational coach Craig Nathanson leads an exercise in planning "your perfect vocational day," including ideal activities, work settings, and associates.

He explains that the key to living an authentic life is learning how to capitalize on your passions.

Marissa Mayer Responds to Yahoo Work-from-Home Criticism

Yahoo President and CEO Marissa Mayer defends her decision to institute a controversial plan requiring employees to work on-site. Mayer argues that having workers in the office spurs discovery and innovation.

Bourdain and Gill on Animal Cruelty and Worker Rights

Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and renowned food critic A. A. Gill debate the moral relativity of gourmet food production, from foie gras to worker rights. "Most Ghanaian dish washers are treated far worse than any of the geese that make foie gras," says Gill.

About this series


Since it was established as a federal holiday in 1894, Labor Day has celebrated the economic and social contributions of workers throughout the United States. But dramatic shifts over the course of a century remind us there are new challenges facing the American workforce, such as establishing equality for women in the workplace and a reinvention of manufacturing and other "dirty jobs" that are vital to the country's economic engine, but since been neglected.

As you celebrate Labor Day, discover what this holiday means in the modern, 21st century workplace.