Departmental Papers (City and Regional Planning)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

January 2007


Postprint version. Laura Wolf-Powers, 2007. The definitive, peer-reviewed and edited version of this article is published in Environment and Planning A, Volume 39, Issue 2, pages 398–416, 2007.
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Between the early 1970s and the late 1990s, the market repercussions of state deregulation, combined with technological change, sparked profound changes for employees in the heretofore highly unionized US telecommunications sector. The wholesale restructuring of the AT&T Bell System and the growth of competitor firms' market share led to declines in union density, yawning wage disparities among people doing similar work, and increased casualization and insecurity for holders of both customer service and technical jobs in the industry. However, these trends have manifested themselves somewhat differently for customer service and technical workers. While employers have typically followed a strategy of consolidating and regionalizing customer service and clerical labor, a significant amount of technical work, specifically the installation and maintenance of telecommunications infrastructure on customers' premises, has grown more fragmented, structured by local labor market conditions and institutions (see Batt and Keefe 1999, Keefe and Batt 2002).



Date Posted: 15 May 2008

This document has been peer reviewed.