Frito-Lay workers are on strike. Fast food workers are quitting in mass numbers. Restaurants are having to adjust hours because they can’t find help. And many people are flat out refusing to go back to the rat race of an office setting.
It was bound to happen sooner or later. America has been a country that has never fully understood what it means to pay people a good living wage. I’m not talking about a decent wage or even a minimum wage.
No, I mean a good living wage. We came close once during the middle of the 20th Century then fucked it all up.
We brought enslaved people to this country and even after the Emancipation Proclamation and slavery was abolished, many people did their damnedest to keep it going as much as they can. Even in the 20th Century in the deep south, it was still happening on isolated farms and ranches.
The 13th Amendment pretty much had a lot of grey area with American lawmakers to force people to work against their wills for little or no money. They learned they could arrest people and force them to do labor. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak here in America, prisoners were being forced to battle wildfires.
Every now an again, a story hits the wire about how an immigrant was forced to work with people who paid their way but the work performed was far more than the fare. This also happens to people who have developmental disabilities.
If the #FreeBritney movement is any sign, even one of the most famous entertainers of the last 25 years is not immune to exploitation.
We’ve hit a point in our country where people are fed up and I don’t blame them.
I have a theory that many people enlisted in military service for World War II for one simple reason – they were hiring. The Great Depression was still on. It had been going strong through the 1930s and by 1941, even with the New Deal, it was no way over.
I don’t fully believe Americans in the 1940s were all gung-ho. But if they could get a job, why not?
What they didn’t tell people was they used German POWs to help build many WPA building structures today.
Afterwards, America had been saved the destruction of its land so factories were available to produce and manufacture anything. And they were hiring.
Until they weren’t hiring anymore.
Greed was the cause of it. By the 1970s, European companies were rebuilt and Japan was now a major global business player and manufacturer. By the time that Reagan became President, he was more than ready to tell the labor unions to go fuck themselves so his buddies in the business and corporation worlds could make more money.
It wasn’t just Reagan but it happened under his Presidency. And Reagan told a lot of lies about how Democrats and unions were taking our money through taxes. And unions themselves back then were their own worst enemies.
The Teamsters did more damage than any other union with their connections to organized crime. It also hurt that Americans felt that unions should only apply to people who have “dangerous jobs,” such as iron workers, steelworkers, construction workers, etc. And of course, law enforcement.
Fast food work was for kids and high school dropouts. The same went for waiters and waitresses. Want a tip? Go above and beyond and maybe you’ll get a dollar or two. What about retail workers and grocery baggers? Fuck him. Go to college and get a degree. Learn a trade.
We began to delude ourselves thinking that those who worked indoors at restaurants and grocery stores didn’t deserve to have better working conditions. At the same time as retail and grocery stores switched to self-checkout at the dawn of the 21st Century ,we began to criticize them.
Shoppers think they should get discounts for scanning and bagging their own groceries. To me, this mentality is why retail workers are leaving and I don’t fucking blame them one bit.
I worked at retail as a teenager and I started having back problems at that time. But I guess, I should’ve went and gotten a better job, which I did when I went to college and went to go work for a newspaper.
I think the reason people hate self-checkout and the order kiosks is because they can’t throw their superiority over the clerk behind the counter. And most of these people are Boomers.
I’m not saying bad customers are limiting to one age range, but I think Boomers had more advantages so they weren’t going to have to work jobs in fast food or retail past a certain age.
We’re going to have to make some changes. And it’s starting.
A few years ago, a worker at a Subway restaurant was so sick, she couldn’t leave without being told she would be fired if she didn’t find a replacement. She was sick and handling food.
I can relate. In the winter of 2006, I got a job in the produce department of Wal-Mart in Muskogee, Okla., and got the flu from the same place I was working probably because some other worker couldn’t call in. I didn’t go to work and got terminated. Wal-Mart was expecting me to come to work and handle food while sick and contagious.
A year ago, people who worked at the produce department in Wal-Mart were considered “essential workers.” But it was all a smoke-screen to make them feel better. A lot of other people lost their jobs. They had college degrees and had learned a trade. One day, they came to work and were told they had to turn in everything and leave.
It’s fucked up that you can do everything right and still find yourself unemployed and almost homeless. I can go on about how I was treated the last year at the last newspaper I worked at but I’ll do that in another post.
People were basically told they had to work from their homes to keep their jobs. They had to upgrade their computers and internet service. And for many, it worked. They were more productive. They also felt better.
But now, employers are telling them they have to go back to some brick and mortar building to work for a company that thinks Hawaiian shirt day and extra Frito-Lay chips in the breakroom is the best thing for them.
People are tired of having to piss in a cup because they like to toke cannabis outside of their work. How many people get drunk after work and on the weekends? They don’t have to wear machines that monitor their blood alcohol content.
How much longer were we expecting people to tolerate it?
The best part is that many Boomers, who were so used to this abuse they felt it was a sign of achievement, are now retired, thankfully, so they don’t deserve a say in it.
It’s all Gen Xers, Millenials and Zers who are in the workforce and we’re mad as fuck and not going to take it anymore.
Spending 50 years of our lives living paycheck to paycheck expecting maybe to get a promotion or another better job isn’t living. It’s not even surviving. It’s dying slowly.