Wanting a living wage is NOT laziness

Million dollar CEO’s and employers call anyone who wants a fair, safe, understanding, work environment lazy. They tell you that you are already getting more than you are worth.

Well who the fuck decided they were worth so much more than me in the first place…oh, that’s right, they did.

And the scabs fell for it and have now infected the rest of us.

Employers call all of the following lazy whiners:

  • People who do not want to work 50 or more hours a week
  • People who don’t see the need to work more than 40 hours a week for someone else’s profit margins
  • People who want to be able to work enough hours to make a living
  • People who want to be paid overtime because, by doing so, they are agreeing to put their employer above their family or themselves and expect a reasonable compensation for it
  • People who want to be able to successfully balance work and family or work and a personal life, instead of being forced to choose one or the other
  • People who want to be paid fair wages for fair work
  • People who want equal pay for everyone
  • People who want to be sure that the company they are working for cares about their safety over the company’s own bottom line
  • People who want to be able to do good work for a company without always being told that they aren’t meeting completely unreasonable production metrics that are designed to reduce the number and amount of “merit raises” the company used to lure you into the job in the first place
  • People who want to be able to take a few days off to care for a sick relative or give birth or adopt a child or get married or have their cancer treated or have a fucking cold
  • People who want dignity and respect from their employer

There is an amazing amount of history available that shows how damaging it is for society and the economy when the income gap gets to the levels it’s at now. Go do some research that extends further than your history textbook from school, you’ll see what I mean. Check out things like how newly freed black Americans were forming labor unions shortly after they were emancipated. Or how millionaire Andrew Carnegie turned a blind eye as Henry Frick unleashed the Pinkertons on steel workers in the Homestead Strike.

Workers have always been called lazy for doing the work their rich (too often white) employers weren’t willing to do for themselves.

Post emancipation former slaves were, historically, called lazy, worthless, drains on society. Their crime? Asking to be paid at the same level as white people doing the same jobs. Asking to be paid a fair wage for doing work that white people didn’t want to do. Asking to be allowed at least half of their waking lives in order to do silly things like plant, tend and grow, the crops their family needed to eat regularly.

Go look it up. It’s even available in fiction. Harriett Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, later lamented bitterly that her “domestics”, now free people, were no longer willing to spend every waking hour toiling for her for a pittance. She called them fat, shiftless, and lazy for having the audacity to want to be home in time to make meals for their family or attend funerals or work for her for fewer than 7 days a week. (go read Paul Ortiz, Emancipation Betrayed, 2006)

Let me say that again: A rich white woman, who hadn’t lifted a finger to do any hard labor in her life, was calling the people who spent more than half of their lives doing all of her work for her lazy. Think about that for a minute and tell me which one of them was actually lazy.

Later, when dock workers in Florida wanted better hours, fewer injuries, and better pay, they were called lazy.

When workers demanded to be paid in real currency instead of scrip that left them beholden to the company store, they were called lazy.

When women wanted to be able to have the ability to have both a family and a career instead of having to choose between the two, they were called lazy.

Even today, we’re still calling women who want equal pay and equal opportunities lazy whiners. (although, somehow, they’re now also “too busy” to worry their pretty, empty, little heads about things like equal pay.)

So why/how does this happen?

It works like this…

Companies and employers want their business to be successful…and by successful, I mean make THEM rich.

In order to do this, you, the employee, has to be agreeable to this.

At this point, employers have two options.

1) Give employees reasonable work hours and pay employees enough to live on, with a little extra for the future; then reap the benefits of employee loyalty, high morale, and greater production, because of the pride of your employees being able to make a living and also actually live.

2) Pay as little as legally allowed, argue to be able to pay even less, complain about sales downturns, punish employees for not selling/assembling/building/installing enough of your product by using outrageous production metrics that are specifically designed to avoid having to reward you for good work, and only give a few of your workers full-time hours on a regular schedule and/or access to reasonably priced benefits.

Most employers, unfortunately, choose the latter even though history has proven time and again that the former is the better option.

For example, Henry Ford was a greedy, greedy, man. He wanted to make his product the most needed and most wanted item on the market. Unfortunately, the market for his product did not yet exist so he had to create it in order to sell his product.

To sell lots of a product, he had to make lots of a product. To make lots of a product you have to put lots of people to work. So, thought Henry, why don’t I just pay my workers enough so that they can buy this product for themselves? Then, after my thousands of employees have been paid well enough to buy my product, they’ll all go tell their friends and family how awesome I am and how they too should buy my product.

The end result was creating a new product and a market for it.

Ford earned more work out of his, now very loyal, employees because of how awesomely he paid them. And, he worked with the unions to find out what “good pay” would actually be. But see here’s the trick…because the extra money he was paying his employees basically came right back to his company in the form of sales profits, it essentially cost him nothing to do this…but saved him hundreds of thousands in advertising. Not to mention creating such a strong level of brand loyalty that it’s still being passed down generations later.

Oh sure, it’s equally plausible that he could have simply given every one of his employees a new vehicle. But that wouldn’t get anyone anywhere.

Not everyone appreciates something they didn’t have to work for; but everyone appreciates something they worked their asses off to get.

Yes, he paid more, but the reality is that he got most of that extra back in the form of sales to employees, their friends, their family members, and pretty much every jealous neighbor within ten miles of the brand new shiny cars.

By paying enough so that everyone who worked for him could have the pride of working for something extra, extra in this case being a huge luxury item like a car, while still being able to make ends meet, he boosted his bottom line. That employee pride boosted employee morale, which in turn boosted production, which made them feel even more awesome, which boosted their boasting about how awesome the product they were building was, which boosted Ford’s bottom line better than any giveaway ever could.

Even better, his actions also ensured that the thousands of other workers for the other auto manufacturers would be treated the same, lest those companies loose their employees to Ford.

Henry Ford became a millionaire and the automobile became a household necessity instead of a luxury item.

See, greedy.

But certainly not stupid.

Sam Walton had the same idea in the beginning. And, having been an employee of WalMart, and part of a family who has been employed by WalMart, I can honestly say that the company didn’t change to it’s current course until after his death. Sam Walton rewarded employee loyalty because he knew that the employee would return that loyalty.

My sister started working for WalMart when she was 16, while Sam Walton was still being martyred. She started as a cashier, part time, for a dollar more than the minimum wage at the time. As soon as she turned 18 she was given full time hours, and offered insurance and other benefits for a pittance. She was also given profit share, stock option, and a 401k. By 18 she had gotten a raise every six months and was a Customer Service Manager. She stayed with WalMart until she had reached a point where she was making close to $15 an hour and was guaranteed full time hours and full benefits…so of course, she had to go.

As an employee, my sister should have been highly valued. She had worked for the company long enough that there wasn’t a part of the daily store operations that she hadn’t had at least a little experience with. She had worked her way up and had earned every dime of what she got. Because she had cross-trained to so many other areas of store operations she should have been seen as a valuable asset.

But her value as an employee was nothing in comparison to her drain as a payroll number.

After 12 years of loyalty and profit for the company, she was part of the great WalMart purge that happened slowly and silently less than a decade after Sam Walton’s death.

The company itself, riding high on the loyalty that Sam built, was able to avoid any initial accusations of wrongdoing, from those who were purged, by using the great reputation Sam Walton had built as a shield against public backlash.

That’s how Walmart got away with implementing their current practices…by using the awesome that used to be WalMart to hide their oppressive greed from the general public. After all, WalMart was the company everyone wanted to work for. It was the place everyone wanted to shop. How could they be doing anything bad?

You must have just been too lazy.

Note: don’t believe Sam Walton’s death was a catalyst, he died in 1992…1995 was when the first of the “predatory” accusations and other lawsuits started cropping up, less than five years after his death WalMart would become the joke it is today. 

Or how about this:

When someone at work complains about having to work overtime do you respond?:

a) by telling them to stop complaining, be happy they have a job and be grateful for the extra hours?

b) by agreeing that the company is asking for a lot of sacrifice for very little return at the expense of the very people you are working this hard for?

Hint, if you answered “a” you might just be a scab. 

Here’s a scenario:

My husband has no problem working hard. He knows that he is being done a bit of a favor by being chosen as one of hundreds of applicants for his current position. However, he also recognizes that the bulk of that company’s income, because of his and his co-worker’s effort, is going to someone else that isn’t him. Meaning that the largest portion of his time, effort, and energy, is creating a return for someone else.

In today’s social climate, the ability to recognize that the bulk of your effort is making someone else rich, while still occupying the greater portion of your personal time, is called laziness. Got that? I’ll say it again: Not wanting to kill yourself to make someone else rich is considered lazy.

But why?

Yes, you did me a favor by being willing to hire me. But I’m also doing you a favor by making possible for you to keep being rich through my labor.

Should I really be that grateful that I’m working this hard to make someone else rich…while they, in return, complain bitterly about my lack of industry, my pay expectations, and what my “attitude” is “costing” the company?

If I’m laboring for upwards of 10 hours every day, why am I being called lazy for (just like the millionaires) wanting a decent return on my investment?

If I agreed to work __ number of hours a day, with the possibility of overtime, why am I the bad-guy for not feeling the need to meet constant, mandatory, overtime to make someone else more money at the expense of my family? By constantly scheduling mandatory overtime, the company is the one who is ignoring, or over-riding, the original agreement, so why is the employee the villain?

See how insidiously it happens yet?

Author’s note: My husband and I have come to the conclusion that anyone who actually believes that workers/wage-earners are somehow undeserving of respect, fair pay, and a safe work environment are no different than scabs. Example: You complain about constant overtime and not being able to spend time with the family that you are sacrificing so much time for. Someone else says something stupid like “stop complaining, you’re getting paid overtime.” or complaints about pay caps and forced promotions are met with “at least you have a job” or “well a CEO is getting paid millions so they must be worth it” that person is a scab and you shouldn’t listen to them. 

Don’t be a scab. 

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About pynomrah

I like stuff, and things.
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