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A Spontaneous Rebellion of Low-Wage Workers Is Rising Up Amid Pandemic

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/05/25/spontaneous-rebellion-low-wage-workers-rising-amid-pandemic

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America, spread your wealth. Food, shelter, and health care security to all of yours as a first priority. Save the free market for baubles, as it is best suited. Join civilization for a change. Life on Earth is not a given under hominid dominion. Let’s pay attention to what the Planet is telling US. It is telling US to correct–yesterday. Level the playing field for all workers for dignity’s sake. Imagine–it’s easy if you try.

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The ghost of card check haunts Biden.

~https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/30/business/economy/joe-biden-labor-unions.html

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They should put up plexiglass! Lots of it. From what I am reading, businesses around the world are making extensive use of plexiglas between workers and customers, and mandating (and providing essential workers with) PPE to make workers safer. Its my understanding that many laws are requiring they do this as a condition of reopening.

We shouldn’t outsource all the jobs, thats what they are trying to segue us into.

Level the playing field for all workers for dignity’s sake.

Your job is being moved to a region with lower labor costs, and your boss has asked you to train your replacement. How should you respond?

Even if you feel betrayed, it is wise to stay calm and professional, said Wally Bock, president of Three Star Leadership, a consulting firm in Greensboro, North Carolina. “Anything less can cost you in reputation,” he said. “Your job is already gone, and the new person has already been selected. It’s up to you to control your downside risk.”

How widespread is this situation?

It is increasingly common. In an effort to cut costs, many companies are shifting to cheaper labor sources: freelancers, temporary workers, even computer programs that automate tasks altogether. Another trend is moving jobs overseas. Companies often turn to departing employees for help in the transition. In some cases, managers ask nicely. Sometimes, the request is accompanied by a suggestion of unpleasant consequences if you fail to comply.

Last month, when Bank of America announced that it was moving about 100 positions out of its Concord, California, office to India, executives told employees that their severance packages could be contingent upon completing their jobs satisfactorily. Shirley Norton, a spokeswoman for the bank, said that training a replacement was not a “requirement” for severance but noted that in some cases, a departing employee’s responsibilities could include training replacements.

Scott Moss, professor of employment law at Marquette University in Milwaukee, said this strategy was perfectly legal because U.S. companies are not bound to offer severance of any kind.

“For an employer, severance can be a carrot to get employees to train new staff,” Moss said. “The prospect of losing those benefits certainly makes the alternative less appealing.”

How should you approach the training?

Feelings of anger, resentment and betrayal would be perfectly understandable in a case like this, Moss said, and you might feel an urge to spread misinformation out of spite. Still, he said, employees should not act on these impulses.

Deborah Brown-Volkman, president of Surpass Your Dreams, a career coaching firm in East Moriches, New York, suggested trying to view the training sessions as your last opportunity to offer a positive contribution to the business.

“You gain nothing by going into the training with an attitude,” said Brown-Volkman, author of “Coach Yourself to a New Career: A Guide for Discovering Your Ultimate Profession.” “Nobody says you have to be extra friendly; just tell the person what he needs to know and move on.”

What knowledge are you expected to share?

Bosses usually lay out their expectations. The list is likely to include only the crucial stuff, like computer files, contact lists and procedural protocols. Beyond this, Cathy Greenberg, president of Happy People and Healthy Companies, a consulting firm in Tucson, Arizona, said employees should pass along everything they perceive as necessary for a “base capability” to do the job.

“No matter what the scenario,” Greenberg said, “you want to make sure your replacement has enough knowledge to be successful.”

Should you offer to provide additional support after you leave?

Once you have fulfilled your boss’s training requests, you are no longer obligated to lend expertise of any kind. Still, if you would like a favorable recommendation for your next job, Paul DiModica, president of Digital Hatch, a consulting firm in Atlanta, said it might pay to make yourself available to your successor for additional assistance as needed.

“Look at it as a marketing opportunity,” DiModica said.

“You don’t have to be nice to them once you leave, but there’s absolutely no reason to burn a bridge when you might be able to turn the situation into a useful reference later in your career.”

The oppression of “essential” workers has been going on in broad daylight for longer than I like to stretch my feeble powers of recollection. Everybody knows the significance of all the signs, from those migrant-labor pick-up spots outside your local Home Depot to ubiquitous “my car & I belong to” (Uber, Lyft) stickers. Late capitalism slid back into feudalism some time ago, but people either don’t care or figure it’s something we all just have to put up with. How often do you encounter anyone conscientious enough to say “I won’t buy stuff from exploiters”? Someone’s pointing a gun at USAmericans’ heads, forcing them to materially participate in oppression with their daily decisions, with their dollars?

Everyone knows, or should know, the names of the worst predators – while most keep giving them money. That’s one historical thread of Late Capitalist Rot which appears to be approaching a culmination, a resolution of contradictions.

Simultaneously, another historical thread, of Evolutionary Battle (losing the war), a thread whose biological as well as historical significance will elude humankind for years, breaks in sideways with its own inexorable culmination, and resolution of contradictions – an extra touch which makes this moment in history feel singular. In this phase of a very long Evolutionary Battle, we hear no dearth of chatter about “the vaccine” – sometimes implying we’ll have a wealth of immunity options to choose from in no time flat (the hubris never crashes until it does).

Such chatter is oblivious to the historical thread it partially comprises, in which clever humans and apparently even more clever microbes match wits on the battlefield of public health. This thread also has much willful obliviousness, turning our heads from the seriousness of malaria and AIDS “over there” where, supposedly, tropical diseases rage. Now that a “tropical disease” has broached our manifestly feeble defenses, now that “over there” is over here, we see two historical culminations combined in the bodies of USAmerica’s disdained “essential” workers, today.

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My local barber finally opened after the lockdown and I was so happy to get my hair cut I gave her a 100 percent tip. For those of us that managed to keep working through this I think we can all help pitch in a bit when we can.

I have heard accounts of businesses adding a “Pandemic tax” to the cost of goods. My concern here is that money finds its way into the pockets of the owners and investors as profits rather then going to the worker. What will happen is that the Corporate owners will see this as an opportunity to churn more profits even as they make pronouncements that “pandemic fees” will help out the worker. Try to stick to small businesses.

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If you haven’t heard…they are running out of plexi glass

Joshua Collins is the Essential Worker Party candidate for Washington State’s 10th Congressional District open seat.

Lets hope he gets enough primary votes in August to land one of the two slots on the November ballot !

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Unfortunately I very much doubt there will be any real change unless at least a few of the grand high muckety-mucks’ heads roll.

We need to do much better than we are for everybody. We should try to find ways to protect workers better. I have an idea thats based on what I think is sound science - its clearly a valid idea and its affordable, I havent been able to get it looked into. Its pre-exposure prophylaxis using resveratrol, yes, the substance thats in lots of plants including grapes. It has both activity against coronaviral replication and its am immunomodulator, one of the very best ones. resveratrol is made from a plant polygonum cuspidatum that is one of the top recommended plants in “traditional chinese medicine” for COVID-19 as of the last few weeks, Two of the constituents of that plant, japanese knotweed, namely resveratrol and picead both stilbenes are known to inhibit the two other closest related viruses and also both are active against sepsis. So far as far as I know it has not been tested against COVID-19 but the usage in China makes me fairly certain it is helpful. Emodin the third substance of interest may be a protease inhibitor for coronavirus, But there are some issues. two out of three isnt bad though and resveratrol is known to be useful in a great many of the issues caused by COVID-19, partcularly the sepsis and ARDS/ALI, and coagulopathies. if its nanoencapsulated or processed in a number of other ways that increase its bioavailability and longevity in the body. plus may inhibit virus. Thats a remarkable set of facts which make it imperative we investigate it. I have no idea why it has not been investigated, there is no reason not to.

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Thanks again Common Dreams for bringing Michelle Chen back.

Sick benefts should NOT be limited to those who TEST POSITIVE for this virus. that is a criminal situation because despite there now being a way to make an electronic sensor in the form of a sensor FET that can deliver unlimited tests, with a wait time of only 2 minutes and high sensitivity and specificity - Still they have kept access to testing so difficult that countless people are dying in their homes never having received treatment.

By the way the science says that people should get treatment early. Resveratrol which is a stilbene, perhaps the best known of a class of substances known for their very wide antiviral activity (inhibition of replication) may help. combined with other substances strongly suspected to be helpful, (vitamin D, zinc, high dose vitamin C) It may help a lot. Would it really be that hard to test it?

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This is music to my ears—workers unite!

I strongly disagree with the comments in your post from the corporate friendly advisors. If companies want to relocate your job to lower wage workers, there’s no point in enabling them by providing free training to these new workers. In this situation, the company has already “burned the bridge”, proving they have zero respect for their workforce. Under this situation, there’s a likely chance they won’t care if you receive a positive reference or not. How would that read anyway, “so-in-so was a good company boot licker…” As an employer, I would have second thoughts about hiring someone who did this because of their lack of self respect, and would always wonder if they would do damage to my company, if someone offered them a few bucks to do so. We’re talking about low wage workers, not CEO’s.

So who did they vote for in the primaries???WE NEED A REAL FUCKING REVOLUTION IN THIS COUNTRY!

Just listen to all the reports of how this 2 trillion dollar stimulus money got spent----the rich just got richer ------These people running the country dems and rep are THIEVES!

There is going to be a time all this debt is going to catch up with us-----and the ahole rich won’t be the ones paying the bill.

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This is a very complicated moral situation. Bluntly, once it has been committed in a trade agreement and quotas have been destroyed (imminent, see the WTO site under Dispute Settlement, see dispute 503. ) its going to be very difficult to stop. We need to be able to encourage worker ownership of business, - What has been done in trade agreements is creating new entitlements allegedly owned by foreign countries (WTO version) or corporations (Under the US style agreements) The idea is that corporations, even staffing corporations (temp worker companies) get a right to use their workers in whatever country they operate. This will result in the demise of millions of jobs. Skilled Americans will need to accept very low wages and leave the country for good jobs. Less skilled Americans will have to have connections to get the ever shrinking number of non-tradable jobs.

This process was begun in 1986 and the enabling act, the URAA was signed on December 8, 1994. Now it is basically on autopilot. There is a very real possibility of massive job loss, where jobs are like water running out of a bathtub. This process is just beginning. Its been planned for decades. The US is putting forward another FTA intended to lock in and expand the original services agreement but it is even more on autopilot including everything by default. That acts as a freeze which blocks all the things we talk about here, almost without exception.

The General Agreement on Trade in Services was signed in 1994. The best time to have prevented this was ~1992 or even earlier. Instead Americans were fed an endless theatre designed to distract us and use up our energy on meaningless babble.

Now what? Really, the Article XXI procedure, in more than one or two sectors, would be too expensive because it demands compensation for the jobs which the developing countries were allegedly promised.

So its like the Treaty of Versailles. Its an impossible debt that the neoliberals created, that we are supposed to pay in jobs.

~http://policyspace.xyz/@@search?SearchableText=Article+XXI

Its the same with healthcare, higher education, and all the other sectors we committed to the GATS. We need to dump it to keep those jobs. Otherwise we will lose all those jobs. People will have to train replacements.

The propaganda says that we, the rich Americans want others to do them, for less.

In exchange we get leverage over other countries, like on pharmaceuticals. They get the jobs, we get higher profits on drugs.

Its already decimated IT, but its been artificially limited by quotas that are under attack to only a tiny fration of the millions of jobs that were they not there would be outsourced to temp companies operating here, or to places like Africa or India. (Likely Indian firms managing African employees is a new hybrid type of company). They portray themselves as the “Back office of the world” just like China portrays itself as the “Factory of the world”

we could easily lose half of our jobs or more within a very short time period, just a few years. These companies come in and they replace entire departments.

Other countries (India, especially) consider the jobs to be an entitlement, if they bid cheaper. They are now (just recently) required to pay workers “a legal US wage” but they oppose that because they see it as a debt we owe so we should let them use their main advantage which is very low wages. For them to have to pay a worker eight or none dollars an hour they consider to be an injustice when the worker is only going to be here for a few years, just to save money, its not immmigration. In fact the visas say “non-immigrant visa”

When jobs like the ones in the former public sector are privatized, the jobs are put up for bidding in an international tendering process. See ~https://e-gpa.wto.org We framed it so in the WTO, an arduous process of negotiation that has gone on now for 30 years, repeatedly falling apart, for example, Uruguay Round and the DOHA Round. For a while after Doha (November 2001) there was sympathy for the US because of 9/11 but it seems we squandared it. Later Cancun in 2003 also was quite contentious. So now developing countries consider these jobs which they claim are their payback for putting up with all this for two decades, to be a debt that they are now owed by the developed countries, particularly the US, which they accuse of protectionism for delaying so long…

See:
~http://policyspace.xyz/collections/keywords/?Subject=GATS+obligations&collectionfilter=1

~http://policyspace.xyz/collections/keywords/?Subject=GATS+Article+1%3A4&collectionfilter=1

~http://policyspace.xyz/collections/keywords/?Subject=GATS+Mode+4&collectionfilter=1

Its touted as the future of Africa, basically its put forward as the savior for African countries, like an ElDorado. Even while people like myself realize that to stake so much on technologies that are so powerly labor saving is a hopeless cause, as many of the jobs will be totally automated within a few years.

Obviously its also a big lie that Americans don’t have the education or don’t have the desire to do these often good good jobs.
See ~http://policyspace.xyz/documents/w39.doc/view for an example of the kinds of arguments made by one large developing country basically urging we stop educating workers and just outsource the jobs to them.

Ultimately, its all about profits, and the global clique of neoliberal economics are largely to blame for hyping these deals even after the economics in them has been largely debunked…

For decades they have been publishing all these insanely unrealistic economic prediction about the huge profits we are throwing away by paying wages that are too high. “Services liberalization” as its called has been a subject of multiple trade agreements, is supposed to free workers to do things that are profitable for the US’s allegedly “protectionist” politically well connected workers, who are alleged to have forced the US to drag its feet for so long on the long promised liberalization. But the fact is for decades they have starved our educational system!

Most likely in order to make it more likely they could get away with this.

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Actually, whenever a company has international investors, the host country is arguably not in control (but in practice, we, our government tends to be on the side of lowering standards because it works both ways, the US corporations being the largest users of international agreements and provisions like ISDS, its usually us suing other countries to allow lowering of standards, even ones like water essential to peoples health, see ~italaw.com for some ofthese cases). But suppose the US was Mexico, and lots of deaths in a factory and we wanted to close it down temporarily because they had many deaths. We would then likely have to defend ourselves in ISDS court against the US, pressuring us to reopen maquiladoros… claiming we were violating NAFTA or some siilar international agreement. Similarly if we enacted laws which attempted to make workers safer, we would have a fine line where we would have to balance the risks against the potential tobe sued for depriving investors of the value of their investments. These are real entitlements. Not politicians promises. Similarly with big much needed changes like Medicare for All. To get them we have to leave these agreements FIRST, we should not discuss them in any other way because desperate people anxious for health and a sane policy dont understand we’re walking into a trap - read the WTO Annex on Financial services- which very soon will become impossible once a specifc WTO dispute (503) opens the door wide to large scale outsourcing, sans the (quite smaller than the potentialamount which could even reach 40% or more basically all the decent jobs in the country, with few exceptions) ending the visa quotas that exist today, because once that starts the amouunts we would need to compensate to buy our freedom to regulate back becomes astronomical. This is why we should not vote for politicians who fail to tell us the truth about these deals. They make promises about things that need to be changed before they can occur, thats in essence stealing our votes.

They should tell us the truth, a huge wave of outsourcing jobs and what amounts to a global race to the bottom whose goal is to turn workers into interchangeable cogs in a global labor machine, has been ongoing for decades, but was held up by disagreements over the terms of the deal between North and South countries. its been already - (and the rest is being) taken out of the hands of national governments.

Read about Domestic Regulation on my site. The keywords are on the left.
~http://policyspace.xyz/collections/keywords/?Subject=domestic+regulation&collectionfilter=1
All of the areas that the services deals cover (healthcare and insurance, education, many many others) have been held hostage, for example, health care has been kept from being fixed in order to preserve its profitability for foreign firms, who will come in to insure (only the healthy, as it was in 1998) patients , write subprime high interest mortages for the poor, and generally gut the much desired changes and gain freedoms to exploit people US firms have with even less accountability. Thats the plan.

Its certain, not just likely those changes will eliminate more and more accountability, and lower labor standards and wages to some very low least common denominator level… also they will replace millions of jobs. So millions of people will lose homes and have no money… This is why they want to privatize Medicare and Social Security, because otherwise, having had their ability to earn cut off early, millions of people will expect help. Thinking that they can just vote for it.

Politicians the world over want to shed that moral hazard more than anything else. The world is changing and becoming one with very few jobs, They are pulling up the ladders.

If we want voting to be able to fix anything at all we have to get the power out of the hands of totally undemocratic organizations like the WTO. Pretending this is not there isnt going to help, instead its going to divide us between the reality deniers and people who need a democracy which has been taken away from us.

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Here is the problem, the US has been such a huge advocate for the global value chains system because wealthy Americans are obsessed by high yields, its more important to them to be able to make high yields overseas and not lose their investment than it is to preserve high value jobs here. they would just as soon have other rich people’s children do them for a fraction as much. They pretend to care but they really dont. this is a class thing, Rich people are rich people first, members of some party second or third or even less. Basically they just want to win. They will say whatever they feel they have to say to get the job and all other rich people understand that they “have to” lie like crazy to get votes. They feel better than other people and feel that they are entitled to get what they want, as after all they own everything. It doesnt bother them, because they feel that otherwise the deck would be stacked against them. This attitude about democracy is expressed well by the word “Majoritarianism”. Many feel that democracy is a sort of tyrrany of the masses.

This attitude is totally inconsistent with democracy. Rich people all around the world increasingly know one another personally. they travel a lot, often have boats and so when they are sailing around they end up running into one another at this marina or that. They feel more connected to one another than they do to the rest of us, they may even feel as if they are in an adversarial relationship with all of the rest of us. They like to pretend they are much much poorer than they are, they sicessfully lobby for and get zillioins of tax breaks etc. that nobody who is not rich knows about, and they get a little zing of satisfaction every time they get away with it.

they see nothing wrong with paying bribes to get special favors, after all, they deserve those special favors - they think. they think that “money makes the world go riund” and don’t understand why people like us get mad at them for being that way, because indeed, THEY HAVE NO MORAL COMPASS. So certainly, some crucial part in their brains is missing. I would NOT want to trade places with them because frankly losing ones humanity is not worth all the money in the world. By the way, I didn’t post what I posted because I agreed with it, even though I would proably do what I was required to do in that situation, trying to stay sane and not let it ruin my health, because I’m a professional and so I would feel obligated, but I do get mad when I realize how huge of a rip off is happening and how shamelesly the country is being deceived by these politicians who are literally selling our country down the river. For that reason I plan to never vote for any of these neoliberals again, I dont care what party they are, if there is any reason to think they are a closet neoliberal or an overt one they dont get my vote, period. However, I suspct that by now it doesnt matter, the voting machines in my state were known tobe a security nightmare before they even bought them, they were warned by literally some of the leading computer experts in the entire world (because my state is one of the centers of high technology in the world, in a sort of incognito way) and theytotally ignored these warnings. At least two or three generations of computer scientists have wrote theses dissertaions etc, about the many different kinds of vulnerabilities in these machines. there must be several dozen. they dont care.

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A lot to unpack from your two replies, I won’t try to address every issue. I appreciate the second, as it provides balance for the first, and I agree with most of what your saying. No question in my mind the downfall of the US since WWII, economically and socially, is due to the ruling class embracing neoliberalism, and all methods used to instill and enforce this ideology on to the citizens of this country and the world. You threw me off in your first reply, using the word “we” to represent the ultra rich, instead of “them”, after re-reading it and your explanation that you don’t support the forced training of a workers replacement, I believe we’re closer to being on the same page than I originally thought.
As a past instructor in my field,I have no problem training and handing down technical job information to the next generation who will one day replace me when I retire, but I would in no way, train lower wage workers to replace todays workers merely to increase the profit margins of the company I work for. I do agree, it appears the world is headed for some sort of worker/labor reset, and under the current neolib model, I’m not optimistic as to how this is going effect everything economically and socially.
I appreciate the links you’ve provided, when I get a chance, I intend to check them out.