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home : opinion : e-opinion January 20, 2022

11/24/2021 12:01:00 AM
Letter to the Editor
Is It True... Americans No Longer Want To Work?

According to data published on November 12th from the United States Job Openings and Labor Turnover report, a record 4.4 million workers walked away from their jobs in September.

And the usual elitist pundits, have begun working frantically across various mainstream media outlets to explain why so many US workers abandoned their jobs. Of course, most of the published opinion pundits never ventured off their privileged pedestals, to interview actual American workers. Instead, they parrot the approved narrative pushed by the likes of the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Round Table, titans of industry and bought and paid for politicians.

It should be obvious to anyone paying attention, all the workers didn't just mysteriously disappear. And it's highly unlikely, they're all sitting at home collecting unemployment benefits. Most of those government programs ended back in September. The new narrative these op-ed pundits would have you believe, is those workers are now sitting out of the labor pool, living it up, off of Biden's monthly child tax credit. And in fairness, some former workers may well have figured out how to do that.

However, I submit other variables are the driving force behind America's labor shortage. And while factors like universal income, unemployment insurance, government subsidies programs, early retirement, lack of credible childcare resources may play a role in decisions made by persons to leave the labor force, those metrics do not appear to be the primary driver. What then, might be the affecting the rapidly declining labor pool in the USA?

- Many non-essential businesses abandoned their workers during the lock downs of 2020, even though they could have applied for payroll relief loans that the US government vowed would be forgiven if used to retain employees. Most of those funds were never applied for or distributed.

- Of "essential" large corporate owned businesses that were granted a stay of execution by government to remain open during the lock-downs, their employees were forced to work under highly stressful conditions: fear of catching a deadly virus that was dramatically over hyped by main stream news media, forced to wear a highly restrictive medical device covering their face, forced to undergo regular highly invasive testing for a virus, even when not sick, forced into random periods of quarantine for weeks on end when any random employee happened to test positive for the virus, as well as having other inhumane restrictions placed upon them.

- Many businesses today still require all employees to wear restrictive face masks during work hours. Mask mandates negatively impact employee human rights and pose a risk to personal health. Those requirements have had a particularly draconian effect on low wage retail and food service workers; most of whom, are coerced into wearing harmful face masks as a condition of employment while at the same time providing services to a largely unmasked public. And these draconian measures are imposed on staffers without regard to the fact, there are numerous published, peer reviewed, scientific studies suggesting that face masks are not effective at stopping the transmission of viruses, and may cause bodily harm.

- Many businesses are mandating employees and new hires be "fully" vaccinated with the non-FDA approved, experimental COVID vaccine as a condition of employment. And, these mandates have been imposed without regard to employee's personal privacy, bodily autonomy rights or consideration given to experimental vaccine safety. Those businesses are simply acting on the basis of unlawful coercion placed upon them by the Biden Administration. Effectively those businesses are practicing medicine without a license in demanding their employees wear medical devices and receive experimental vaccines as a condition of employment. At the same time, those businesses are violating employee privacy rights under HIPPA and the ADA.

A few years back in the controversial Citizens United case verdict, the SCOTUS declared 1st amendment speech rights applied to businesses; thereby, effectively affirming that businesses are the same as people. That said, if it's unlawful for an individual citizen whom is not licensed to practice medicine. to prescribe drug therapies or medical devices to others; then it follows, the same rule of law is applicable to corporations and small business entities. Tyrannical COVID mandates is the number one reason cited by workers who've chosen to abandon their jobs.

- Many businesses having issues hiring and retaining employees are guilty of having over-worked their loyal staffers during the pandemic lockdowns, and now once again, due to staffing shortages. Worse, many of those same businesses embarked on a campaign of offering sign-on bonuses to attract new hires, while at the same time, began reducing work hours and offering no rewards to their loyal long-term employees.

- Many businesses now having trouble retaining and hiring employees, became "woke" after Democrats cheated their way into power at the national level. Some of these businesses set up extreme diversity and equity metrics for all hiring and promotions. The resulting discriminatory practices against white applicants and existing employees violate Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Worse, some of those "woke" businesses began requiring employees to undergo controversial CRT and White Privilege training, thus compounding their violations of Title VII, in addition to, creating a hostile work environment for their white employees.

- Many of the businesses that are currently experiencing hiring and retention issues were not paying a wage consistent with the purchasing power of the US Dollar before the pandemic began in 2020. Paying wages of $10, $13 or even $15 Dollars per hour was not acceptable in an economy where approximately $22 per hour was the minimal living wage rate for a single person. Fast forward to where we are in 2021, and out-of-control inflation under the reckless Biden Administration, has eaten into the purchasing power of that $22 per hour living wage by more than (6.2%) driving down the purchasing power of already under paid workers even further. At some point, every business' lowest paid staffers will begin to walk away when their compensation ratio to labor output is insufficient to meet basic needs of food, clothing, shelter and transportation.

- Many of the businesses currently experiencing hiring and retention issues were guilty of terminating full-time, loyal staffers during the inception of "Obamacare back in 2014. They began a pattern of hiring primarily part-time employees to avoid paying health insurance benefits. Those same companies then abused their part-time employees by paying low wages, and keeping those part-timers always on-call, sometimes 24 / 7, to cover any potential staff shortages. As a result, their part-time employees were unable to enjoy any work / life balance or have the flexibility to take on other part-time employment to make ends meet. Those unscrupulous employers used and abused part-time staffers, while reminding them each day how they should be grateful to just have a paycheck. in a time when few employment opportunities existed due to the never ending great recession.

The narrative that America's front line, low wage workers are lazy, and used to living off government handouts is as untrue as the narrative that America's food service and retail industry workers aren't deserving of a living wage consistent with the purchasing power of the US Dollar in 2021.Those false narratives are just polluting the public sphere environment with noise.

Labor staffing problems in America today can easily be traced back to their root cause. However, that involves getting out into the real world, and interviewing front line workers, not management, not the Chamber of Commerce and not the Business Roundtable or other industry groups. It also requires having a clear understanding about the declining purchasing power of the US Dollar over the past (3) decades while front line worker's wages remained stagnant or declined. That seems to be an inconvenient truth, no one ever wants to talk about when wages and labor shortages are being discussed.

One final thought, in the United States, employer/employee relationships are a form of capitalism. And it's well known, that a transactional relationship can only take place when both parties enjoy a win-win bargaining position. Many of America's employers over played their hand following the great recession. Essentially, they wielded power over employees like fascist communist regimes do over their serfs. And for a time, those firms got away with being drunk on power because job opportunities were not so plentiful. That authoritarian overreach by companies, worsened dramatically beginning with "(15) days to flatten the curve." Two years later. Millions of hard working, loyal employees who've had their fill of corporate fascism are walking away en masse.

Desperate business owners are belatedly attempting to address their staffing issues with higher wages, flexible hours and bonuses. But when will they wake up, and stop complying with oppressive COVID mandates?

Eric Emory
Denver, N.C.

1 - Jackie Dameron Farm Bureau

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