Why Record Numbers of Workers Are Quitting and Striking

Yves here. Interestingly, this article presupposes that the indignities of American jobs are so well known that they don’t need to be specified. Nevertheless, we’ll mention a few. Using technology to micromanage employees and push them to meet unrealistic timetables, like driving routes that necessitate the driver speed or run light to meet his schedule. Skinflintery, like actual and de facto wage theft (Amazon going to the Supreme Court to win the right to prevent employees from leaving at the end of their shift so they can be screened for theft, yet not paying them for detaining them when the typical 15 minute exit is due to Amazon not staffing enough checkpoints). And slapping workers in the face, such as when hospital execs got record pay and bonuses because Covid, while nurses who were risking their lives got squat (save traveling nurses, but not everyone can hit the road).

By Sonali Kolhatkar, the founder, host and executive producer of “Rising Up With Sonali,” a television and radio show that airs on Free Speech TV and Pacifica stations. She is a writing fellow for the Economy for All project at the Independent Media Institute. Produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute

On September 14, a young woman in Louisiana named Beth McGrath posted a selfie Facebook video of herself working at Walmart. Her body language shows a nervous energy as she works up the courage to speak on the intercom and announces her resignation to shoppers. “Everyone here is overworked and underpaid,” she begins, before going on to call out specific managers for inappropriate and abusive behavior. “I hope you don’t speak to your families the way you speak to us,” she said before ending with “f**k this job!”

Perhaps McGrath was inspired by Shana Ragland in Lubbock, Texas, who nearly a year ago carried out a similarly public resignation in a TikTok video that she posted from the Walmart store where she worked. Ragland’s complaints were similar to McGrath’s as she accused managers of constantly disparaging workers. “I hope you don’t talk to your daughters the way you talk to me,” she said over the store intercom before signing off with, “F**k the managers, f**k this company.”

The viral resignations of these two young women are bookending a year of volatility in the American workforce that economists have branded the Great Resignation. Women in particular are seen as leading the trend.

The seriousness of the situation was confirmed by the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report showing that a record 2.9 percent of the workforce quit their jobs in August, which is equivalent to 4.3 million resignations.

If such a high rate of resignations were occurring at a time when jobs were plentiful, it might be seen as a sign of a booming economy where workers have their pick of offers. But the same labor report showed that job openings have also declined, suggesting that something else is going on. A new Harris Poll of people with employment found that more than half of workers want to leave their jobs. Many cite uncaring employers and a lack of scheduling flexibility as reasons for wanting to quit. In other words, millions of American workers have simply had enough.

So serious is the labor market upheaval that Jack Kelly, senior contributor to Forbes.com, a pro-corporate news outlet, has defined the trend as, “a sort of workers’ revolution and uprising against bad bosses and tone-deaf companies that refuse to pay well and take advantage of their staff.” In what might be a reference to viral videos like those of McGrath, Ragland, and the growing trend of #QuitMyJob posts, Kelly goes on to say, “The quitters are making a powerful, positive and self-affirming statement saying that they won’t take the abusive behavior any longer.”

Still, some advisers suggest countering the worker rage with “bonding exercises” such as “Gratitude sharing,” and games. Others suggest increasing trust between workers and bosses or “exercis[ing] empathetic curiosity” with employees. But such superficial approaches entirely miss the point.

The resignations ought to be viewed hand in hand with another powerful current that many economists are ignoring: a growing willingness by unionized workers to go on strike.

Film crews may soon halt work as 60,000 members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) announced an upcoming national strike. About 10,000 employees of John Deere, who are represented by the United Auto Workers, are also preparing to strike after rejecting a new contract. Kaiser Permanente is facing a potential strike from 24,000 of its nurses and other health care workers in Western states over poor pay and labor conditions. And about 1,400 Kellogg workers in Nebraska, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Tennessee are already striking over poor pay and benefits.

The announced strikes are coming so thick and fast that former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich has dubbed the situation “an unofficial general strike.”

Yet union representation remains extremely low across the United States—the result of decades of concerted corporate-led efforts to undermine the bargaining power of workers. Today only about 12 percent of workers are in a union.

The number of strikes and of striking workers might be far higher if more workers were unionized. Non-union workers like McGrath and Ragland hired by historically anti-union companies like Walmart might have been able to organize their fellow workers instead of resorting to individual resignations. While viral social media posts of quitting are impactful in driving the conversation around worker dissatisfaction, they have little direct bearing on the lives of the workers and the colleagues they leave behind.

One example of how union organizing made a concrete difference to working conditions is a new contract that 7,000 drug store workers at Rite Aid and CVS stores in Los Angeles just ratified. The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 negotiated a nearly 10 percent pay raise for workers as well as improved benefits and safety standards.

And when companies don’t comply, workers have more leverage when acting as a collective bargaining unit than as individuals. Take Nabisco workers who went on strike in five states this summer. Mondelez International, Nabisco’s parent company, saw record profits during the pandemic with surging sales of its snack foods. So flush was the company with cash that it compensated its CEO with a whopping $16.8 million annual pay and spent $1.5 billion on stock buybacks earlier this year. Meanwhile, the average worker salary was an appallingly low $31,000 a year. Many Nabisco jobs were sent across the border to Mexico, where the company was able to further drive down labor costs.

After weeks on the picket line, striking Nabisco workers, represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, returned to work having won modest retroactive raises of 2.25 percent, $5,000 bonuses and increased employer contributions to their retirement plans. The company, which reported a 12 percent increase in revenue earlier this year, can well afford this and more.

Taken together with mass resignations, such worker strikes reveal a deep dissatisfaction with the nature of American work that has been decades in the making. Corporate America has enjoyed a stranglehold over policy, spending its profits on lobbying the government to ensure even greater profits at the expense of workers’ rights. At the same time, the power of unions has fallen—a trend directly linked to increased economic inequality.

But now, as workers are flexing their power, corporate America is worried.

In the wake of these strikes and resignations, lawmakers are actively trying to strengthen existing federal labor laws. Business groups are lobbying Democrats to weaken pro-labor measures included in the Build Back Better Act that is being debated in Congress.

Currently, corporate employers can violate labor laws with little consequence as the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) lacks the authority to fine offenders. But Democrats want to give the NLRB the authority to impose fines of $50,000 to $100,000 against companies who violate federal labor laws. Also included in the Build Back Better Act is an increase in fines against employers that violate Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.

The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, which is a business lobby group that wants anything but democracy in the workplace, is deeply concerned about these proposed changes and sent a letter to lawmakers to that effect.

It remains to be seen if corporate lobbyists will succeed this time around at keeping labor laws toothless. But as workers continue to quit their jobs, and as strikes among unionized workers grow, employers ignore the warning signs of rage and frustration at their peril.

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  1. Mark in Mayenne

    Sure it’s possible to apply pressure by stopping payments to unemployed people, but very difficult to force them to work if they decide they’re not going to.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Some of the young and very young unemployed people might well have pre-old parents living in a home. If those parents were to accept the young people living at home for a while so that those young people could survive the stopping of unemployment payments, perhaps these united families ( if there are enough millions of them) can exert a cumulative additive multiple-individual mass pressure running the opposite way from cutting off unemployment payments. Perhaps large parts of the employer sector can be labor-shortage suffocated into either raising pay and conditions, or into going extinct if that is the choice they would rather make.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Yes. And we need a race-neutral and eth-neutral way to think about that.

          How about this . . .

          Most of us are descended from immigrants. Immigrants are good people. And people are a good thing. And there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Too many people is just as much too much of a good thing as too much of any other good thing is too much of a good thing.

          The more people we have, the more we have to share. And the more we have to share, the less we get to have. Preventing too many people in America will prevent us from each having to share too much and getting to have too little.

          There. Honest selfishness without any racism at all. And accusations of racism against what I just wrote can be recognized for the racism-hustling guilt-exploiting moral extortion racket which they are.

          In light of all that, the policy for the next 10 years or so should be . . . zero legal immigration. Zero illegal immigration. Long hard prison time for every employer of so much as one single illegal immigrant or illegal visa overstayer, including the homeowner who employs an illegal lawncare worker for even one day. Zero tolerance stops the ” hire an illegal today” problem. We have a carceral state. We have the space. We just need to start carceralizing the right people.

          And zero part time or special visas. Force Silicon Valley to pay an American wage to American digital workers. Or let Silicon Valley go bankrupt and go into liquidation.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > What I would like to know is where and how do all these dropouts survive?

      This has been my question. If “The Great Resignation”‘s endpoint is a homeless tent, that might not be so “great.”

      1. Mr. Magoo

        I suspect a lot of people have learned to do more with less over the last few years. Maybe young adults found that living with your parents again wasn’t as bad as dealing with the abuse in some of these employer-employee relationships.

        1. jsn

          This is what I’ve seen.

          Want less and share more.

          It’s an ethos that does what guilds once did for like minded, self selected communities: COVID pods, for instance. Ironically deep ties have come from social distancing.

          1. Terry Flynn

            Yep. Plus a point directed more to others up the thread, it’s not just “young” adults returning to an extended family model to remain viable. Never thought that my life of independence and reaching the top of academia would end up with me back with parents as a carer/office mr fixit for family business.

            However I had chosen to make a stand against unreasonable employment conditions. Twice. So I am persona non grata in that corner of academia although just today I got highly amusing email from old uni friend who used to work in AI at google doing stuff he never talked about much telling me that google scholar shows my “big” textbook is continuing its upwards path…. And I see that loads of the works citing it are in his field (understanding human preferences) and are gobbledegook to me. Thanks…… I think.

            The (good?) news is I’m back in the workforce…… Courtesy of exactly the employee exodus mentioned here. The bad news is I’m risking another covid-19 infection when arguably I’m still being treated for the first. However sometimes you just have to take the risk as the “lesser evil” and make that fresh start. First week was exhausting but satisfying.

            BTW regarding UK data. MAJOR delta spike in East Midlands. All hands on deck plus half the key pharmacy staff at my local pharmacy where I get my meds were off work yesterday, ill with it. Mask use is plummeting. We’re cruising for a bruising round here…..

      2. JohnnyGL

        A lot of the workers dropping out of the labor force seem to be older workers. Many of them entered the labor force post 2008 crash and may be collecting social security or disability. Don’t be surprised if repubs renew their attacks in that direction once they get back one or both branches of the legislature.

        Plus, the stock market has been up quite a bit, some workers have a decent 401k balance than can tide them over until SS kicks in.

        Then again, the highest quit rates are in retail and restaurants, so…..

        1. albrt

          The republicans are never going to dismantle social security. They will leave that to the democrat wing of the DC Uniparty.

          1. neo-realist

            Trump did have 25% cuts to Social Security in his fiscal 21 budget, assuming he got re-elected. If he steals his way to office in 24, he might double down to 50%. Bush II had privatization plans on the table like Clinton, but dems in congress opposed the measure, and couldn’t find enough support from his own party.

            It’s not just the neo con/neoliberal dems that are evil, ya know.

      3. Nealser

        I’m a 51 year old drop out. Out of work 12 months and not going back. Just sold house in Southern California and moving back to Ireland after 20+ years in USA. Financially independent due to a couple of lucky investments. Saying goodbye to huge Fire insurance, health costs , property taxes, droughts and wildfires. I’m trying to convince my kids that this is not the place to be in the next 10-20 years.
        Will buy a few acres and plant trees. I know Ireland has it’s own problems but it’s more socially responsible to those struggling in society. The government doesn’t drop high explosives on people in other countries.

        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          Baby yourself with regards to the weather and the low sun time, as if you were a desert native. My experience going back to higher, wetter latitudes after decades in the south and southwest was that my childhood in the clouds didn’t protect me as much as I figured it would. I’m back in the desert now and don’t know if I could ever fully acclimate to life in eastern North America above the 40th parallel again. Ireland is far higher north and wetter still.

          1. Janet

            It’s not just the climate that causes people to move, culture is a huge part and at this point, which would I choose? America or Ireland? Ireland every time!

        2. Troutcreek

          I have recommended the same to young folks who ask me what to do…. I tell them get a marketable skill and find a better country. America today is a very sick nation and is completely unable to solve basic problems. Go ahead, identify a major societal problem that’s been successfully addressed and resolved in the last 40 or 50 years. America is becoming a much poorer country and will be the first rich poor country. Get out while you still can.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            If we could round up and physically exterminate all the people who stop us from solving our problems, we could then solve our problems . . . . once the human-form obstructions to solving our problems had been liquidated and cleared away.

            1. campbeln

              I don’t want me and mine “on the ground” when my fellow Americans “storm the Bastille”.

              The inventor of the guillotine became a victim of it as well, after all…

        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          It sounds like you could plant a food forest if you wanted to, and live long enough to see what it does.

      4. LaRuse

        I wonder how many people got even a meager pay-out of inheritance from the waves of elderly deaths? We did – a $15K policy payout after my Father-in-Law passed away in Aug. 2020 of COVID. If my MiL had died with him (and it was close) we would have gotten a significant inheritance.
        I am in part-time online community college and while I am 20 years older than my classmates with similarly older parents/in-laws, but a not insignificant number of them have noted in their introductions that they are back to school or trying out college for the first time since (and I paraphrase) Gramma left them some cash in her will.
        They don’t have to work so they can go to school.
        In our case, my husband’s job has gotten so ugly I have blatantly encouraged him to just quit. That inheritance is still sitting there and we have a cushion. We can’t be the only family that has a little extra spending cash because at least one elder didn’t survive COVID in the last 18 months.

    2. Blue Duck

      I’m a proud participant in the Great Resignation. I quit my 15 year corporate career in March 2020 to care for our kids when the schools closed. Well, the schools reopened and there’s no way in hell I’m ever going back to my career. During the last 18 months we learned to live on my wife’s salary. Eventually I’ll need to start earning money, but not right now. I guess you could say I’m on strike.

      1. Stephen


        I am as well. Left previous employer after 5 1/5 of absolute grind. Now I’m working remote full time. Never returning to an office. 50% increase in pay for less than half the work. New employer doesn’t really care about my output that much…my primary offering is the extensive (and extremely lucrative) client list I brought. I was too low in the old company to justify a non-compete, but was executing the duties of a far more senior position, without the title or pay, and so built a pretty decent rolodex.

        Old employer had to replace me with 3 people. Probably should have just let me continue working from home and paid me more. Instead, they tripled the headcount and are about to lose their most important clients to my new employer.

        We did the math, and decided it’s more financially wise for my wife to stay at home and work an online reselling business rather than enter the labor force and pay for third-party childcare.

        Anyone interested in this phenomena should overlay the resignation figures over new-enterprise formation figures. I’d bet there’s a not-too-surprising correlation there. Call it the nah-ployment crisis (I didn’t coin that term). People had time to look at their options and are saying “nah” to lousy jobs that pay less than gig work, freelancing, garage startups, etc.

      2. ddt

        Quit my job at Kaiser Permanente in July. Moved back to the motherland to take care of my 89 yo mother. KP is going to generate over 90b in revenue this year as a non-profit so good for those nurses. I hope they can get whatever they’re asking for. Lucky that I managed to save some money during the pandemic so I don’t have to work, at least for the time being, but there’s a reason euros look like monopoly money. It’s looking like another winter of discontent all over the place.

        1. Kris Alman

          Yes, it’s amazing how a “nonprofit” hospital system/insurance company can build up “reserves” while compensating management to egregious levels. This is old data. One has to wonder how much more than $16M Kaiser’s CEO makes. As this 2019 Medium Post points out: “At a time when Kaiser is taking a hard line with employees about pay, health benefits, and job security, it is paying their CEO enough to hire 200+ nurses, medical assistants, and/or technicians.”


      3. JohnnyGL

        The absolutely staggering amount of firings in spring of 2020 should not be overlooked. If there’s an ongoing class war, that was an opening salvo in a major new escalation.

        I think the high quit rate is partially a backlash to that move over a year ago.

      4. polar donkey

        I have managed a restaurant for the better part of 20 years. Plus ran concessions in a sports arena. November 21st is looking like my last day. I’m in my late 40’s. I have two sons getting to age of wanting to do boy scouts and other activities. My wife has a stressful day job that’s gotten worse with covid. Seeing them for all of 40 minutes in the morning getting them ready for school isn’t what they need or I want. I’m going to learn to code, or more accurately do IT security.

      5. drumlin woodchuckles

        If you live in a real house with a real yard around it, would you be able to grow enough high-density hyper-intensive garden-food as to be worth as much ” un-money” as the “money” you could earn by going back to paid work?

        1. Blue Duck

          We actually moved to the country and bought a small plot of land back in 2018 (Sometimes I can’t but help smile at what a smart and prescient choice my wife and I made for our family). We grow vegetables, but we are still learning the ropes, might be another year or so before we got so good that we could get 40-50% of our caloric in take from our garden. We have chickens, goats and geese. In the next year or two we plant to bread the goats, sell some, keep others, and milk the mommas to make cheese, yogurt, milk etc.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            There is a book called . . . One Circle: How To Grow a Complete Diet in Less Than 1,000 Square Feet. It is by David Duhon and Cindy Gephard and is based on Jeavons’s Biodynamic-French Intensive concepts. The diet described is very utility-vegan and not much fun. But the claim is that it will keep you alive and healthy. One wonders whether some time should be invested in that at the outset in order to buy time and space to learn how to do the other things at leisure without fearing failures along the way, and end up with a fun-food system producing things one actually likes to eat.

            Here is a link to an article inspired by that One Circle concept, with some book titles listed at the bottom.

            And congratulations on being able to buy that survivalist opportunity.

    3. Any Cause Will Do

      Does growing and selling marijuana, especially in states that have legalized it, offer an income source to some?

      1. lordkoos

        In states like WA which taxes the hell out of weed at every step (production, wholesale and retail) the black market is probably alive and well. I’m sure growing it is much more profitable in states where it is still criminalized, however.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Perhaps the master micro-grower could grow it for barter to people with more money who can buy you things you want in barter-return for you growing them the marijuana they want.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I thought that back in the day, employers regarded unions as a positive turn of events compared to dealing with the growing sabotage and wildcat strikes. Perhaps the IWW will see a resurgence.

    4. Frithiof Andreas Jensen

      In the end, when the two years of unemployment insurance runs out, this will be followed by several years of ‘social security’. If one is very persistent about not working, and this takes years, “they” will lose patience and put people onto a ‘medium disability pension’. This is absolutely not a lot of money but if one lives in a small flat, in maybe not exactly the most attractive part of the town or out in the sticks, one can exist.

      If lack of money or the desire to be employed is ones sole* problem, then “in the ghetto”s there is various forms of cash-in-hand work of varying legality, or one can always take a vocational education, which is free and there are student grants to live on, similar to the ‘social security’, and then run a small business, on and off.

      I know a few self-employed people and consultants who will work until they reach the top-rate tax bracket, then they go on vacation the rest of the year and do ‘creative work’.

      Most of the dropouts have some kind of income and some place to stay.

      *) Almost everyone who literally end up in the streets in Denmark have mental health issues usually compounded by substance abuse problems.

  2. hidflect

    Pay and benefits are so meagre, many families can probably save money by having a care-giver stay home, do some side-tasks, cut all the child-care costs and work expenses. Or at least minimise the loss of income by being a bit more frugal with restaurant visits and eating more home-cooked food.

    1. doug

      Yes. Do away with child care expenses. Go back to one person income in the family. Cook at home. Maybe not much of a net $ reduction, and perhaps big increase in satisfaction and harmony.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        And if people are really sincere about this concept, it will be the husband who does the staying at home if the wife earns more money at work than the husband could earn at work.

        The husband could call himself the House and Yard Handy-Husband.

    2. Objective Ace

      And do away with a second car and the expenses associated with it. Good time to sell one too and get top dollar

    3. Mantid

      Yep, less and even less that that. Especially for a younger (< 60 yr.) person. Might as well get used to living frugally and becoming minimal. Depending on where you live, global warming is either flattening houses and workplaces or will soon. When you get used to having less, then having less is easier. Simple example, it can get over 40C where we are but we don't need AC, either in a car or the house. You learn to play all the angles to stay cool and healthy – with practice and investment, in time and (lack of) resources.

  3. Maritimer

    “If They cannot measure your productivity easily, you can withold your labor on the job. Therefore, determine what is a fair wage and deduct your labor if there is any shortfall. More advanced techniques will be discussed tomorrow.” Professor Street, University of Reality

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I think you are suggesting a work slowdown. If your product is measured in some way — work to rule might address that. After the ‘speedups’ of the last decades — more work to do in less time — I have little doubt the only way some work is getting done is by taking shortcuts around stated policy rules that management mouths and then presses underlings to skirt.

  4. CitizenSissy

    IMHO this is the pendulum swinging back after forty years of antiworker policies and sentiment that began under Reagan, and not a moment too soon.

    Laughed about “bonding exercises” and “gratitude sharing.” My company once offered us worker bees an ice cream social, and claimed without irony that “money isn’t the only way to show appreciation.”

    Pro tip to monitoring management: the color of appreciation is green.

    1. griffen

      That little paragraph wins the morning. Team building exercises that no one agrees on what to do or where to go. Gratitude sharing is corporate talk for no annual bonus, ever. But hey look, a food truck!

      I tend to be a cynical person, and yesterday I channeled the satire of “Fight Club” as something I had to watch a repeat occasion to better grasp the satire. I’m a bit slow at times.

      I tend to watch CNBC a good bit, and the arguments have begun to sway slightly into well, why shouldn’t workers demand better wages and better environments. It’s not much but a start.

    2. redleg

      Once upon a time I brought this up (non-monetary compensation) during a performance review where the company was in a salary freeze (ca 2010).
      Dress code amendments? Nope.
      More PTO? Hell no.
      Drop the price on the coke machine? No.
      Flex hours? No way.
      I had a whole sheet of ideas and not one was taken into consideration.
      Once of the senior engineers, a great guy, found or about my action and took me aside for a talk. He said:
      “Everyone wants to be paid and treated like a prince. If they treat you like shit but pay you like a prince, you’ll stay. If they treat you like a prince but pay you like shit, you’ll stay. Since this company isn’t about to inconvenience itself with any of that BS, bring your resume by and let’s see what we can find for you.”
      I found a couple of decent jobs after that, but finally quit that world in June 2020 for freelance work and have never been happier. A lot more risk, but higher pay and the ability to say no.

    3. Reify99

      And I especially loved it when the staff appreciation events were compulsory! The beatings will stop when…

    4. Tom

      Status, access, power, stuff: that’s the hierarchy of motivation, with stuff (like money) at the bottom.

      Focusing on green means they never even consider power or access as an employee motivator.

  5. lakecabs

    You can say you want to tax the rich.

    You can pass laws to tax the rich.

    But the rich pay little in taxes.

    Strong Unions are the answer.

    No one who works for Amazon should be maling less than 50 dollars an hour.

    1. cnchal

      An Amazon warehouse employee’s career is about two years before their body is worn out. They should be paid like NFL rookies at minimum.

      Note how the author of the post never mentions the grossly abusive working conditions at Amazon, nor the super nasty tactics used to quash the union drive in Alabama. Wal Mart has a 30% + annual turnover ratio. Amazon leads the pack at 150%

      Amazon shopper = whip cracking sadist

      1. Carla

        I’ve been boycotting Amazon for years. If it’s only available on Amazon, I’ll live without it. If it costs more elsewhere, I’ll pay more.

        It’s easy and fun giving Bezos the middle finger every time you shop. Try it and see!

        P.S. And cancel those WaPo subscriptions for crap’s sake!

        1. Kris Alman

          Me too! But absolutely no purchases on Amazon for me. And I boycott all Prime content (many of which comes with a hefty price tag) my husband’s account allows.

  6. Just Joe

    I’m represented by a union at my place of employment. I’ll say this; COVID has given my (very large) employer cover to cut production shifts from 3 down to 1, and is using this shift reduction as a negotiating tool to try and extract tax benefits from my state. Prior to the shift reduction most of (approximately 90%) of the work force was at the top rate of pay. I’m sure they’ll come after us in the next contract negotiations, they’ve used the same script before. Even if they don’t, they’ll hire new employees at a (contractual) rate about 60% of top scale when issues related to COVID and product plans are resolved. What’s going on now is all about profits, and my employer has near record profits this year. There is no loyalty to the workforce. Except as spelled out in an enforceable contract.

    Regarding labor laws: They’ve needed reform for decades, but, a Democrat controlled Congress under Obama didn’t pass anything. Obama was even reported as saying, “Where else are they going to go?”, referring to the unions in America. The current Democrat Congress looks like it won’t either. The Republicans are about as anti-worker as they can get away with, so they aren’t a decent option. The political parties either figure they have us over a barrel, or want to make the barrel they have us over larger.

    I’m not really a cynic, this is just how I see it.

    1. YankeeFrank

      They always have their plans, the rich. Just because a lot of them have been successful over the past 40 years doesn’t mean they have all they want (that OSHA and the NRLB still exist at all is proof of that). And yet, without winning all they’d hoped, their prior wins are causing failure in ways their greed prevented them from seeing as possible or likely: brittle supply chains hurting their profits and losing customers, workers uniting, having other options and opting out. And worse than that their own lackeys in govt starting to make moves. If this is according to plan…

      1. Kurtismayfield

        Lol OHSA. At this point OSHA rules are there for businesses to have legal cover with very small odds of being punished. As an old boss told me after pointing out OSHA standards for lab safety, “OSHA is a guideline”.

      2. Objective Ace

        Why worry about those things when the Government will just bail them out? Both directly (We saw what happened with the airline industry) and indirectly as the government limits competition. Despite all the issues you note they are still making record profits. In light of that, I’d hardly call it a problem

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      If someone(s) started a Lower Class Majority Party ( ” truth in labelling”), how many people would join it?
      How many eligible people would be too embarrassed to ever join a party with a name like that?

      It sounds like an interesting political social-science experiment which deserves to be run.

  7. Mikey Joe

    Many times when shopping at stores i have asked cashiers if they would like a chair when checking out items. They all reply “Yes!”
    Finally cashiers at a new Aldi can use a chair at the checkout.
    It is not more pay or health benefits, but as someone who worked on my feet for hours per day it seemed cruel to me for employees to be on their feet for 8 hours or more.

    1. Terry Flynn

      I can relate to this. After long years of sitting at desks, with conditions that really didn’t help my slipped disc in my back, I found myself in an academic job with a “standing desk”.

      It was great. For a week. Then I realized the real solution was a mixture – allow the employee to work standing or sitting and encourage them to periodically alternate if they’re working for long periods.

      BTW Aldi here (mid UK) only has seated cashiers.

      1. Trogg

        A high desk and a tall stool which allows me to sit and stand as I please, has helped my back issues. If I could quit my job that would cure me.

    2. Carolinian

      We’ve had an Aldi for many years and while I’ve never really thought about it I believe they have always had stools to sit on.

      However they also have to stock shelves and keep the store clean so they are not exactly sitting down all day. It’s a business model based on maximum productivity from the workers. Even the manager stocks and runs the register when required.

        1. Carolinian

          It could promote worker solidarity. Some of their workers have been there for years so don’t seem to mind the hard work.

          In other words quite a contrast from Amazon cyber nanny state.

          1. Terry Flynn

            I did shopping for mum in Aldi today. Pretended to be fascinated by toilet roll brands because I was eavesdropping on a conversation between workers.

            Suffice to say, the “manager pitches in” thing is a joke. They were discussing “work to rule” strategies, having obviously been given duties way beyond their job.

            FYI this Aldi DIRECTLY competes with Sainsburys (who keep saying they price match Aldi) across the road and the competition between the two has led to the worst worker conditions in years. My family personally know some workers at one store. Sceptics look up Sainsburys and Aldi in Daybrook/Arnold Nottingham UK.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Thanks for that. It reads better the second time around. Did you see the tweet further down the page?

        ‘Reminds me of a boss I had. I quit after not receiving a raise I’d been promised for a year. Her response? First to CALL MY LANDLORD and say good luck getting rent. Then to beg me to come back at a lower pay (as punishment for leaving).’

        Which she followed up-

        ‘Best part? I was working at a nonprofit homeless service. The only employees were her and I. She had just given herself a raise and was planning a trip to Disney world. Meanwhile I couldn’t afford shampoo. I have 2 kids and a mother with Alzheimer’s I care for.’


    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Applied cruelty is one of the Prime Directives of sadomanagement in the service of sadocapitalism.

  8. Tom Stone

    There’s a point where people kick over the table and the game is done, all the chips and cards on the floor.
    And they will do that knowing that the consequences for them will be drastic.
    I’m a case in point, I could let things go here and simply squat for 6 months or a year.
    I spent weeks trying to resolve this mess with no success and by Tuesday my home will be red tagged, condemned.
    And I’ll be living in my pick up truck.
    This will cost my Landlord a pretty penny, instead of a reasonable cost of dealing with the problem it’s going to be a LOT.
    The County takes failed cess pits very seriously when they impact watercourses the fines can run to $500 per day for every day the violation has been present.
    15 days, so far.
    Add the cost of remediation ($3-$5K), the fines for illegally converting the place to a duplex 45 years ago without permits and the hit to the value of the property by being condemned and it’s enough $ to get most people’s attention.
    Abusing employees or tenants works for a while, but at some point people say enough, and they mean it,
    And if that means they become homeless, it’s better than knuckling under to unremitting abuse.
    Backing more than half of the populace into a corner where they have no way out short of tearing things apart is unwise

    1. Matid

      Tom, good luck brother, unless you’re a woman – good luck sister. Amazing what people just can’t see, in this case your slumlord. The slumlord could go halves with you, half to you in reduced rent, half to repair/fix the drainage problem. But “Oh no”, argh!

    2. Rainlover

      Tom I am so sorry to hear this. I have had my own bouts of homelessness and, at my age and health condition it’s been fairly terrifying. I call it dancing in the head of a pin. I’ve saved myself a few time by House sitting for extended periods. My heart is with you as you work out your own salvation.

    3. Roxan

      Tom, I think some national parks have free camping. IC.org, is a directory of intentional communities and communes that are seeking members. Usually, you can visit for awhile. There are also retreats and jobs that include housing at a wide variety of religious communities, organizations, such as Jesuit Volunteers ( no requirement to be Catholic), Caretakers for house sitting and Workcampers–many seasonal positions such as campground hosts. Even home care positions that need live-ins. I considered all that when I was facing homelessness. Truly, an awful feeling, and you soon discover who your actual friends are. Good luck!

  9. nothing but the truth

    there’s too much inflation, thanks to the MMT policies going mainstream.

    There is the conceit that deflation is the only outcome of all this manic money creation for decades.

    This is like saying overeating will cause weight loss and therefore we need to eat even more.

    The problem is wages are too low. This is because 1) rent/land/insurance/healthcare etc have become just too expensive. 2) because of declinign customer purchasing power, (discretionary) businesses are struggling and in no shape to increase wages.

    The problem is structural – powerful sectors have become too parasitical. There is just no will to deal with the problem except more and more inflation.

    1. Tim W

      So, then, MMT isn’t the issue after all? How about Greed and the relentless pursuit of profit over all things being factors…
      “Take Nabisco workers who went on strike in five states this summer. Mondelez International, Nabisco’s parent company, saw record profits during the pandemic with surging sales of its snack foods. So flush was the company with cash that it compensated its CEO with a whopping $16.8 million annual pay and spent $1.5 billion on stock buybacks earlier this year. Meanwhile, the average worker salary was an appallingly low $31,000 a year. Many Nabisco jobs were sent across the border to Mexico, where the company was able to further drive down labor costs.”
      For example.

    2. redleg

      The problems causing inflation are due to monopoly power, a private concern, not MMT which is a federal concern.
      When producers are not getting paid enough yet consumers are paying near record high prices, the monopoly/monopsony in the middle is the problem not MMT.

    3. eg

      There aren’t any “MMT policies” other than a Federal Job Guarantee, and since that hasn’t been established it’s difficult to accept your premise that it’s “going mainstream.”

      1. nothing but the truth

        the more money they print and hand out, the more the rentier class will run to grab it and raise the cost of living for those who actually work for a living.

        how else do you explain the skyrocketing rent with falling real wages?

        For me, MMT means fed buying 120 billion long bonds and month and pretending it will not cause inflation, and the fiscal authorities then running out and spending that money.. I know academics will go on and on in painful details how the overnight lending markets work and loans are created as MMT.

        How a sausage is made does not concern me as a layman. How it affects me matters to me.

  10. CR

    This is what Atlas Shrugged should have been about. What are the elites without anyone underneath them?

    1. The Rev Kev

      Would you believe that there was a time in very early Roman history when the plebs had had enough of the set-up and physically left the city? Just upped and moved out. It did not take the City Fathers long to realize that a city cannot run without a workforce who also happened to be their soldiers when needed. So they amended the Roman Constitution enough so that the plebs returned back to the city. If the present elite tried to do an Atlas Shrugged, would they be missed? Would people quickly realize what a liability that they are? Would anybody even notice that they were gone?

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      But if “this” is what Atlas Shrugged had been about, it would have needed a different title. It would have needed to be called . . . Spartacus Shrugged.

      Maybe someone could write such a novel of Lower Class ” Disappearance In Place” . . . and call it Spartacus Shrugged.

  11. Pate

    I adjuncted at the local community college and ran into a former student now working at Costco. Having read that Costco treats it’s workers well while Walmart does not, I asked her opinion. “I love Costco, making $35 an hour and am not ‘maxed out yet’. My two children and I are doing great”. My opinion about Costco validated, I told her I was happy for her and boogalooed home six-pack of organic romaine in hand. Oh, and she loved my class (of course!). Ta da.

    1. Pate

      Yes. I congratulated her good fortune and then went home to eat rabbit food. Adjuncts don’t git paid well and retired-due-to-covid adjuncts even less. Growing fond of lettuce with cold kidney beans – not. May have to borrow mom’s Benjamin and fetch me some squirrel protein. And bezo the clown wasting champagne on the reentry of his celebrity filled flying penis. Where is god when we need her?

      1. JBird4049

        She is being ignored in favor of Mammon by the Elites.

        As soon as enough people realize that Mammon is not God, as much as our Beloved Ruling Classes wish otherwise, maybe She’ll make a return appearance. I am not holding my breath, but who knows?

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps your former student could help you get a job at Costco, if you decide you would rather work at Costco for Costco pay than to work in Academe for adjunct pay.

        To make the rabbit food taste better, Costco also carries a brand of Tuscan olive oil called Kirkland, which I have had a sample of, and which is amazingly good. And if you could get a Costco price on it at Costco ( after all), it might be a good deal.



    Tik Tok resignations and the last puff of unions making their stand vs. a highly organized and class conscious managerial and ownership class.

    We’re about to see some shit in response to all this.

  13. GeorgeMartinSr

    Sonali Kolhatkar, “The Economy for All”, except white males, the majority of the working class in America.
    Screw her and her whiney false issue radio program, the reason that everyone I know, including black longshoremen, stopped sending money to support Pacifica stations.
    She’s the best recruiter for Trump 2024 I’ve ever heard among the working class. Another high caste Indian latching onto the struggles of real working people in whose face she spits daily with her idpolitics and crypto economic fascism.

    1. Mantid

      Oh my. Do you have any specific examples or shows I could listen to supporting or showing your stance? I’d bookmarked that show though I haven’t listened much yet. Let me know if I should give it a try or not waste my time. One of my faves over the last few years, primarily relative to tech issues but a show that touches on workplace (tech) climate collapse (tech) and society in general (tech) is Mark Hurst’s Techtonic. Give it a go. And, thanks for the head’s up.

    2. Oh

      I don’t understand why you’re so much against Sonali. She gave up a lucrative career to go into her current job. Black longshoremen not sending her money does not mean anything. Maybe they don’t have money to give or they have been listening to CNN. I don’t think she’s a high caste woman at all. Check out her bio: http://www.sonalikolhatkar.com/bio/

  14. Matt

    I’m another participant of TGR, and I’ve seen very little mention of the explosion in personal finance related websites and products in the last decade, combined with the depressed stock market after the financial crisis. You can make a budget, track your spending, auto invest, and gain a good understanding of pretty advanced personal finance in a few hours of time. The great recession was less than 15 years ago and I’m sure most people forgot the lessons learned but it seems a significant number did not. The average savings rate is under 10%, which means one year of income saved for every nine worked. Bump it up to 30% and roughly every 3 years worked equals one year of income saved.

    The problem with this is that it implies that consumption rates are more fragile than assumed, and while it would be nice if we had a more balanced economy, the fact remains that it is primarily built on consumption, and any reductions in consumption, even if they lead to a stronger population who is more self-sufficient, are a net negative and economic red flag.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I suspect that if money changes hands and cash registers ring, it is called “consumption” even if it is really buying personal subsistence augmentation tools and jackpot-survival-readiness tools and supplies.

      Perhaps people recognizing the fragility of the political economy to “reduced consumption” could target some of their “non-reduced” consumption to personal-subsistence enhancement and jackpot-survival readiness preparation so as to be more able to withstand a future of partial collapse.

  15. MonkeyBusiness

    A lot of people are probably going down the content creation route (Youtube) or many of them have had a not insignificant return thanks to Robinhood.

    It’s amusing that the powers that be will soon (if not already) have to contemplate a stock market crash to get workers to come back.

  16. Mikerw0

    I would like to add another angle to this. Employers have had all the power for so long that they have forgotten how to recruit and train talent. They write job descriptions that are wish lists, then hold out to get it. Their mindset needs to adjust and take good people, treat them well and develop them. If employers invested in employees they would be incentivized to treat them better (respect maybe?) and work to retain them once they invested in them.

    Not holding my breath.

  17. djrichard

    – the lines are unstacked except for jobs: I’ve stacked jobs unfilled ontop of jobs filled

    Some things that jump out:

    The bursting of the dot com bubble and housing bubble were brutal on jobs filled + jobs unfilled.
    – it took 4 years and 6 years respectively for new peaks to be re-established.
    – all the while, working age population was increasing

    In comparison, the rebound from Covid-19 is quite rapid
    – or it was until the trajectory back sort of stalled out.
    – and it seems part of the stall is due to jobs unfilled going back down within the last month
    – all the while, working age population is no longer increasing. It’s decreasing.

  18. eg

    I just retired a couple of months ago. My wife retired 4 years ago. Neither of us is 60, so I guess we’re both part of “The Great Resignation.”

    I will never accept orders from a boss again as long as I live.

  19. saywhat?

    A new Harris Poll of people with employment found that more than half of workers want to leave their jobs. Many cite uncaring employers and a lack of scheduling flexibility as reasons for wanting to quit. In other words, millions of American workers have simply had enough.

    No surprise there since, per the Bible, working for wages is not the norm for citizens to begin with.

    Nor is rent or debt slavery.

    Instead, the norm is roughly equal ownership of all agricultural land and most certainly no government privileges for usury or debt creation.

  20. Sound of the Suburbs

    You’ve got to make hay while the sun shines.
    I didn’t make the most of the 1980s boom, and I suffered in the 1990s recession.
    In today’s unstable world, you need to make the most of it when the going is good.
    When things picked up again in the mid 1990s, I became a freelancer to cash in on the good times. I was quite lucky and managed to pick up a skill set that was in great demand.
    I made hay while the sun shone and that is what you need to do.

  21. Phil in KC

    Even several $100,000 fines is hardly a deterrent to flaunting labor laws. It’s merely a cost of doing business, as is often said at NC.

    Insincere attempts by owners and managers to be friendly and empathetic to employees fool no one but the extremely gullible.

    Owners/managers attempts to blame the shortage of workers on workers themselves (“lazy,” “greedy,” and other adjectives) almost always backfire, and thank goodness the average person can see right through this kind of crap. Here in KC, all the workers at a local donut shop walked off the job, complaining of low wages and mistreatment. The owner’s response: to raise prices 20% to cover the wage increase, and if customers didn’t like the higher prices, they could blame the person behind the counter . . . what kind of jerk pits his customers against the workers?

    Of course, Mr. Donut tycoon could have funded some of the raises out of his own pocket, and had he done that and advertised that, he would have been applauded. But that didn’t happen.

    It boils down to this: If your business model depends on crappy jobs at crappy wage levels, then you haven’t got a realistic business plan at all. If this is the case, you deserve to go out of business. Employers with true care and concern for the people who work with them should not have any problem finding and keeping workers.

    1. campbeln

      Double the fines on each successive violation. And yes, I know the law of doubling / exponential growth – that’s the point!

      Even the largest businesses would be put out of business in short order if they continue to flout the law. Feature, not a bug.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      And customers with true care and concern for the employers who have true care and concern for the people who work with them . . . will pay the fair wage price that such employers will have to charge in order to be able to afford to show that true care and concern.

      One circle.

      Someone should write a song about that to the tune of that Disney “Circle of Life” song from their Lion King movie.

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