United Professionals

[United Professionals] is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization for white collar workers, regardless of profession or employment status. We reach out to all unemployed, underemployed and anxiously employed workers — people who bought the American dream that education and credentials could lead to a secure middle class life, but now find their lives disrupted by forces beyond their control.

from the United Professionals Website

I found out about the United Professionals, recently founded by Barbara Ehrenreich, among others, while looking around the “In These Times” website. Here is Adam Doster’s summary of the origin of the organization:

Enter Barbara Ehrenreich. While writing her recent expose, Bait and Switch: the (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream, the veteran journalist and activist learned first-hand the pitfalls of keeping work in corporate America. “I met with career counselors, I read self-help books, I used the Internet and job boards,” Ehrenreich says. Realizing that many victims of job instability had nowhere to turn for help, Ehrenreich secured a $10,000 grant from the Service Employees International Union and collected e-mail addresses from unsatisfied workers on a subsequent book tour. In a matter of months, United Professionals (UP) was born.

UP’s mission is simple: “to protect and preserve the American middle class, now under attack from so many directions.” Specifically, the group is organizing two related yet disparate types of workers: recent college graduates and middle-aged workforce veterans. “It is important to align the two groups [of workers],” says Tamara Draut, a UP Advisory Board member and the author of Strapped: Why America’s 20- and 30-Somethings Can’t Get Ahead. “Pitting the generations against each other like we often do isn’t an effective way to organize, given that many things would benefit both groups.”

Adam Doster, In These Times, December 14, 2006

Barbara Ehrenreich’s website is here, and she has a blog as well. Her last post is on the outrageous bonuses being given out by Goldman Sachs, “that average over $600,000 a head and run up to $100 million for some of the top guys, though it’s a safe bet the cleaning crew won’t be seeing any of this largesse.” The rich get richer, etc.


About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and Smarthinking.com. I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol] writinginthewild.com

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