“Grateful to Have a Job”
Ellen Goodman uses that expression in her September 10th column. When you Google that phrase you’ll get 3.7 million hits. Talk about a sign of the times.
Every time an employee gets downsized or outsourced, he/she leaves behind a coworker who’s carrying twice the workload — with no corresponding increase in pay or benefits. And the person’s supervisor is probably more stressed, more harried and even more of an asshole to work for.
As Ellen Goodman says:
“But there are, after all, just as many cases to be managed by fewer social workers. There are just as many floors to be cleaned by fewer janitors…The government doesn't track how many are doing the labor of their former co-workers. Nor does it quantify economic anxiety. The closest we get to numbering the grateful worker is in the figures showing that job-leavers — those who voluntarily quit — are at an all-time low. Trust me, they aren't all staying because they suddenly love their bosses.”
Economist Heather Boushey calls it the “gloves-off economy.” Employees are scared shitless of getting laid off or fired, with or without a valid reason. And they’ll do anything — anything! — to avoid any perception of giving less than 200%. Working long hours without putting in for overtime; coming to work even when they’re sick (or a loved one is sick) — OK, OK, I’ll do it! Don’t rock the boat! Don’t ask for anything or call attention to yourself in any way, and never never ever say no.
Goodman also says: “The talk of work-life balance has fallen as fast as a 401(k)…Indeed, if fear is more contagious than the swine flu, what's going to happen when workers choose between putting their health on the line or their jobs?”
In a related story: the National Labor Relations Board is still paralyzed after years of being sabotaged by Republicans. Believe it or not, this agency — as the name implies — at one time actually protected workers from unfair labor practices.
Dozens of disputes are still pending. The final decisions will have a huge effect on American workers for decades to come.
When a Republican president takes office, every agency that protects workers’ safety, education, consumers, the environment — instantly gets emptied out and stacked with Republicans who want to abolish the agency because they hate everything it stands for. But eight months after Obama has taken office, the National Labor Relations Board is still full of rightwing oligarchs who have nothing but contempt for anybody who works for a living.
The agency is still constipated with holdovers from the Dumbya administration; the fox guarding the henhouse, as it were. It’s time to deliver a massive dose of Ex-Lax and get that shit out of there.