I keep reading about the problems people are having filling low-wage jobs right now. Those with class privilege have no problem pointing the finger at the current level of unemployment benefits and urge an end to the COVID benefits so they can find staff again (or find people to serve them again).
It speaks volumes that they feel entitled to force people to work for poverty wages. It speaks volumes that certain people feel they are entitled to a certain level of service in our economy while not paying the people who perform that service a living wage. It speaks even louder that business owners feel entitled to people’s labor and to pay them below poverty wages.
Here’s a hint: it’s not them, it’s you.
Business owners, if you value your employees, you won’t have a problem finding and keeping them. I was on unemployment last year for two months while the vacation rental industry was shut down. My unemployment benefits were about the same as what I was making when I was working. When business opened up again, I went back to my job. It had nothing to do with the money – it had to do with a place where I was valued, appreciated, and felt I contributed.
For eight years, I worked in a hotel. If I had been on unemployment from that job, I would have fought going back tooth and nail. That place treated their employees as disposable while at the same time expecting mindless dedication from them. They had good workers that eventually left because they got tired of not being appreciated. Last year, it was shut down during the initial COVID shutdown. I heard from one person who had been employed there since the place opened (like me) that they didn’t hire back any long-term employees, looking to cut the wages they were paying.
And they wonder why they have trouble finding employees?
This goes for any industry. Businesses get reputations just like people do. If a place is great to work for and people feel appreciated, word gets around. If a place treats their employees as disposable, that gets around as well.
A casual acquaintance who wrote on the same site I did for a while, used to lament minimum-wage laws. She blamed the fact that her business failed on what she had to pay her employees. I’ll echo something I’ve seen a number of times on the internet: if your business model depends on paying people below-poverty wages, it’s a bad business model. You are not entitled to anyone’s labor. It’s not a “free market” when you don’t pay people enough to live on. It’s exploiting them and one step above slavery.
The problem isn’t unemployment. It’s that we’ve become so used to having a class of people in poverty subsidize the rest of us with their labor. Businesses have treated them as disposable and have cultivated no loyalty among employees and now that is coming home to roost.
If people are treated with respect and decency, they will want to work for you. It’s that simple. Are there a few people who take advantage and need to be weeded out? Absolutely. Usually their co-workers won’t want to work with them either.
I do believe there is another labor revolution coming, and I support it completely.