Millions of American Workers Are Not Taking It Any More

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Courtesy of Jack Baty (Flickr CC0)

America’s government has protected the bloated profits of big business for decades while ignoring the working class. Low pay and reduced benefits have been forced on American workers since the Reagan administration. Unions are disappearing, giving all of the power to wealthy Americans. Lobbies created by special interests are in control of the legislative branch, leaving workers without representation in Washington.

The deadly COVID-19 virus produced one positive effect. Forced to stay home and given time to think about their lives, thousands of men and women decided to quit their jobs. The common complaints are the demands of their employers. Inconsistent shifts, resulting in long hours while being underpaid, have become the norm in America.

Federal laws guarantee fair wages, universal healthcare, family leave, and paid vacations in most developed nations. Unfortunately, this is not the rule in the United States. As a result, millions of American workers feel like “slaves to their jobs.”

The first time I read about this development, I looked back at my own work experience. I began working at age 16. I was paid $1 per hour and required to work 13 hours on Saturdays, with no overtime pay, and that was one of my better jobs. I was employed for 49 years. Those were the ‘good years.’

At the end of the 20th century, companies that manufactured everything from clothing to electronics began moving their plants and factories to foreign nations. Good-paying jobs in our inner cities disappeared. These companies experienced rapid growth in their profits, while unemployment rose in America. Today, one-half of all Americans are forced to survive in society’s low income and poverty levels.

Today, the majority of jobs available in the U.S. are in the service industry. Most of these employees rely on tips for the majority of their income, and few have benefits. In the Reno/Sparks area of Northern Nevada, “help wanted” signs are everywhere, especially in fast-food restaurants. No one can live on wages paid by this industry, and there are no tips.

American
Courtesy of Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (Flickr CC0)

Republicans in Washington have blocked every attempt by Democrats to raise the minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 an hour for federal nonexempt employees. In every city in America, this is a joke. It has been proposed that the federal minimum wage be increased to $15.00 an hour, but even this increase will not pay for the necessities in many cities.

Income inequality is a growing problem and will eventually destroy our nation’s economy. Every business relies on consumerism. If the working class cannot purchase items that are not considered “necessities,” capitalism will fail the wealthy as it is failing the working man and woman today.

Most Americans are living similarly to my wife and me. We needed some things to live in a semi-comfortable manner. The stimulus checks were both needed and appreciated. Unfortunately, we share another fact with millions of older Americans; we live on our social security checks. At ages 75 and 70, we can no longer be members of our country’s workforce. But we are not sorry.

We felt abused by our employers for much of our lives and spent too many hours “making money.” Then we would spend our days off taking care of our home. Our motto now is, “tomorrow is another day.”

Op-ed by James Turnage

Sources:

BBC: The parents who don’t want to go back to the office; by Josie Cox
Daily Kos: How low-wage workers are taking back power in the ‘Great Resignation’

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Jack Baty’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Unitarian Universalist Service Committee’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons Licence

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