past event
Employment and Jobs

Demanding Dignity at Work: A Book Talk with Steven Greenhouse

About this Event

The institution of work is in a crisis in the US. Americans continue to believe in the value of hard work, but for far too many, hard work is insufficient to pay the bills. The 2016 election heightened attention to the white working class, the #MeToo movement pulled back the curtain on abuses many women experience at work, the role of immigrant workers has become a divisive flashpoint, and fears of an automation-induced jobs apocalypse abound. These current challenges have historical precedents.

In an engaging new book, Beaten Down, Worked Up – The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor, veteran New York Times reporter Steven Greenhouse relates how working people organized to address similar challenges in the past, how the gains they achieved began to erode, and how working people today are again finding their voice. Like their predecessors, workers are uniting in common purpose to respond to today’s challenges and demand a better world of work for themselves and for future generations.

Enjoy this conversation with one of the nation’s leading labor reporters discussing the past, present, and future of work in America and the role of working people in determining that future.


Praise for Beaten Down, Worked Up

“Superb, important and eminently readable. . . a searing indictment of how labor’s decline magnified inequality and injustice in the U.S. Much recommended.”

—Nicholas D. Kristof, op-ed columnist, The New York Times

A “must-read book … An excellent account of how important strong unions were in moving our nation “toward greater economic and social justice,” and how their decline has increased “inequality and unfairness.”

—E.J. Dionne, op-ed columnist, The Washington Post; member, EOP Advisory Council



A new book by @greenhousenyt examines the past, present, and future of work in America. Hear the author #talkgoodjobs with @AspenWorkforce.

Americans believe in the value of hard work, but for too many, hard work is insufficient to pay the bills. What’s driving this disconnect? @greenhousenyt and @AspenWorkforce explore the issue.

From the 2016 election to #MeToo to immigration to automation, the labor landscape is riddled with new challenges and anxieties. What can the history of work teach us about preparing for the future?


Featured Speaker

Steven Greenhouse

Former reporter, The New York Times

Steven Greenhouse was a reporter for The New York Times from 1983 to 2014 and covered labor and the workplace for nineteen years there.  As labor reporter, he covered everything from the Fight for $15 to poor housing conditions for farmworkers to the New York City subway strike to Walmart’s locking in workers at night. He also served as a business and economics reporter and a diplomatic and foreign correspondent. He has been honored with the Society of Professional Journalists Deadline Club award, a New York Press Club award, a Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Reporting, and the Hillman Prize for Book Journalism for his last book, The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker.



Maureen Conway

Maureen Conway

Vice President for Policy Programs, The Aspen Institute; Executive Director, Economic Opportunities Program

Maureen Conway serves as vice president for policy programs at the Aspen Institute, executive director of the Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program, and founder of EOP’s Workforce Strategies Initiative. She is a nationally recognized expert in workforce development and is the author of numerous articles and publications on training strategies designed to help low-income workers get ahead and to address systemic barriers to opportunity often faced by women, people of color, and other groups. Her writing has appeared in Quartz, Fast Company, Politico, and other outlets. Her current work includes documenting and evaluating promising innovations in strategies that seek to improve job quality for lower-income workers while also helping workers to improve their skills and businesses to thrive. In 2012 Maureen created the Working in America speaker series at the Aspen Institute, bringing together voices from business, labor, policy, human services, media, academia, and other areas to discuss the challenges experienced by many in today’s labor markets and new ideas for addressing these challenges. Under Maureen’s leadership, the Economic Opportunities Program has hosted a number of leadership development and fellowship programs that connect innovators from across the country to peers engaged in helping low- and moderate-income Americans access opportunity, and now links these fellows together through the Economic Opportunity Fellows Network. Maureen holds an MBA from Columbia University, where she was a Samuel Bronfman Scholar, a master’s in regional planning from the University of North Carolina, and a Bachelor of Arts in economics and mathematics from Holy Cross College.


Join the conversation

Join the conversation on Twitter by following @AspenWorkforce and tweeting with the hashtag #talkgoodjobs.


Learn more

This event is part of the Working in America series, an ongoing discussion series hosted by the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program that highlights an array of critical issues affecting low- and moderate-income workers in the United States and ideas for improving and expanding economic opportunities for working people. We are grateful to the Ford Foundation, Prudential Financial, and the Walmart Foundation for their support of this series. For more information, visit

Learn how the Economic Opportunities Program is helping low- and moderate-income Americans connect to and thrive in a changing economy. Follow us on social media and join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on publications, blog posts, and other announcements.

Event information
Mon Sep 16, 2019
12:00pm - 1:30pm EDT
The Aspen Institute
2300 N Street NW Suite 700
Washington DC 20037