Don’t Believe The US Business ‘Labor Shortage’ Lie, It’s An Unofficial General Strike – OpEd – Eurasia Review


For the first time in years, American workers have enough bargaining power to demand better working conditions and higher wages – and refuse to work until they get them.

Here’s where that leverage comes from. After a year and a half of the pandemic, consumers have pent-up demand for all kinds of goods and services. But employers are struggling to fill positions to meet this demand.

The most recent employment report showed the number of vacancies at an all-time high. The share of people working or looking for a job fell to a record low of 61.6%. In August, 4.3 million Americans left their jobs, the highest quit rate since 2000.

Republicans have been claiming for months that people are not returning to work because of federal unemployment benefits. Waste.

The number of people working or looking for work fell in September – after additional benefits expired on Labor Day.

The reluctance of people to work has nothing to do with unemployment benefits. It has everything to do with the fact that the workers are fed up.

Some have taken early retirement. Others have found ways to make ends meet other than a job they hate. Many just don’t want to go back to grueling or mind-numbing low-paying jobs.

As a result of so much hardship, illness and death, people’s priorities have changed.

The media and most economists measure the success of the economy by the number of jobs it creates, while ignoring the quality of those jobs. Just look at the media coverage of the September Jobs Report: The New York Times highlighted “weak” job growth. For CNN, it was “another disappointment”.

But when I was a Secretary of Labor, I encountered workers all over the country who complained that their jobs were too low paying and had few benefits, or were dangerous, or required hard hours. Many said their employers mistreated them.

With the pandemic, it’s even worse. That’s why, in addition to all the people not returning to work, we are also seeing dozens of organized strikes across the country – 10,000 John Deere workers, 1,400 Kellogg workers, over 1,000 miners. of Alabama coal and thousands of others.

Not to mention unauthorized strikes and walkouts since the start of the pandemic, like mostly black sanitation workers in Pittsburgh or Amazon warehouse workers on Staten Island.

In order to attract workers, employers are now raising wages and offering other incentives. Average earnings rose 19 cents an hour in September and are more than $ 1 an hour from a year ago. But clearly, this is not enough to get the workers back.

American companies are trying to present this as a “labor shortage”.

But what is really happening is described more accurately as a shortage of living wages, a shortage of risk premiums, a shortage of child care, a shortage of paid sick leave and a shortage of health care.

If these shortages are not corrected, this unofficial general strike will continue.

I say it’s time.

About Norma Wade

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