Do workers now have the upper hand?
If you’ve noticed on retail store windows and restaurant operations, many “Help Wanted” signs appear. At the same time, many people suggest that since the working class is being supported by the government right now, workers have become “lazy” for “experiencing socialism.” Some employers joined the chorus by claiming they’ve put out signs and can’t get any applications. A few of these employers claim that job applicants make appointments for interviews but don’t show up for them. What’s really going on?
I checked with the state’s free website, Indiana Career Connect, and did a job search for our county. I’ve seen the “Help Wanted” signs as well. However, there were only a dozen jobs posted. I didn’t see a single one for restaurants or retail shops. The website also mentioned they were the job site for unemployed Hoosiers. I verified that our Workforce One operations had been privatized, but workers on unemployment are assisted with services on Workone’s website, which includes building a profile on Indiana Career Connect where they can search for jobs.
If I was an employer, and my goal was to hire someone unemployed, I’d probably set up a free account with Indiana Career Connect so that I can get my job openings in front of thousands of workers seeking employment. The state and federal unemployment assistance due to Covid-19 isn’t very much money and not nearly enough to cover child care, car payments, student loans, and rent/mortgage payments.
At the same as our economy is opening up and employers are having difficulty finding employees, Reddit has postings from actual workers in fields like restaurants, fast food, and retail shops — workers from the employers posting help wanted signs in their window. Oh, and plenty of Amazon workers complaining about how the company treated those trying to unionize the warehouses. These employees are sharing their horrible experiences with their managers and customers. Lots of workers complaining about the low pay and high stress. That is not a good combination. Some of these workers were considered “essential workers” during the pandemic, and when it was time for the politicians and the American people to show their support by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which is still below the poverty line, we whiffed. Maybe the workers aren’t lazy — maybe they are tired of being taken advantage of.
World Economic Forum Suggests Change is Coming
I receive a newsletter from the World Economic Forum (WEF) which goes out to all attendees at Davos, Switzerland. This is going to the world’s elite. In the newsletter is a story written by a blogger titled, “Burned: A working letter.” The folks at WEF have been warning those flying into Davos the past several years that the world was changing whether they liked it or not. Inequality and oppression were fueling the mass protests across the world. The world’s leaders responded with more authoritarian measures like censorship, outlawing protests, marginalizing critics and dissenting voices, and ramping up the propaganda. It’s not working.
Have decades of worker abuse finally caught up to global corporations who’ve enjoyed a job market where they can pick and choose dangling poor to mediocre benefits to employees?
Seems so. The author anticipates more problems for corporations trying to kick start their businesses after a year where the government has propped up the economy. Those who’ve worked through it are burned up as the author writes:
Meanwhile, the corporate response to burnout has been earnest but superficial: offering meeting-free Fridays and subsidized yoga, plus an extra week or two off—while the Q3 roadmap and OKRs crank along—is like trying to put out a house fire with a glass of pinot. What people really need is months of rest and control and autonomy over their work. What we need is a total reset about what work is for, and who gets to decide how it gets done.
Can you imagine the concept of workers defining what needs to be done instead of masters of profit factories? What would that even look like? You probably even daydream about it as you commute to and from work or fire up that computer in the morning thinking, “Man, I could do this at home in my pajamas without all the disruptions of meetings and listening to my coworkers talk about their crappy personal lives.”
Workers Redefine Work
The blogger then points to a sign from the New American Movement, which folded into the Democratic Socialists of America Movement, redefining work by taking it out of the corporate profit centers. Read closely:
If you’re unemployed, it’s not because there isn’t any work
Just look around: a housing shortage, crime, pollution; we need better schools and parks. Whatever our needs, they all require work. And as long as we have unsatisfied needs, there’s work to be done.
So ask yourself, what kind of world has work but no jobs. It’s a world where work is not related to satisfying our needs, a world where work is only related to satisfying the profit needs of business.
This country was not built by huge corporations or government bureaucracies. It was built by people who work. And it is working people who should control the work to be done. Yet, as long as employment is tied to someone else’s profits, the work won’t get done.
For the past five years, the WEF has been pointing out to the world’s elite power brokers that climate change must be addressed. They’ve invited Greta Thunberg to address the jet-setting crowd where she dismissed them as hacks for not attacking climate change decades ago. They also invited historian Rutger Bregman who pissed off the crowd by telling the billionaires the truth about their taxation schemes. He later pissed off Tucker Carlson on Fox News when Rutger told Tucker he was “a millionaire mouthpiece paid by billionaires.”
I don’t think it’s an accident the WEF sent out a newsletter with a blogger talking about workers redefining work around the same time employers are complaining they can’t attract workers to high-stress, low-paying jobs which provide no benefits. Have workers had enough? Has being forced to work through a pandemic while getting paid below poverty wages finally broken the backs of the workforce? Are the remaining unions just tools of our capitalist society?