Monday, June 7, 2021

American Workers Gain Leverage Over Bosses And The Right Freaks Out- Why?


It was hard to miss FOX business hack Maria Bartiromo going hair -on - fire hysterical yesterday morning.  She was beside herself with fury at the fact millions of American workers were able to "sit on the sidelines" while employers begged for labor, and many had to shut down operations unless they got it.  Boo, hoo and hoo.  Maybe if the tightfisted cretins paid higher salaries they wouldn't have the problem.   

Recall barely two years ago how the corporate honchos actually prided themselves on lowballing prospective workers' wage demands. They even admitted they seldom paid them what their talents were worth. Now the situation has altered nearly 180 degrees and it is the workers who have the leverage  - to demand higher wages, more benefits and greater work-life balance.  And the CEOs, bosses hate it!

As we learn from a recent NY Times piece by Neil Irwin:  

"The erosion of employer power began during the low employment years leading up to the pandemic, and given demographic trends, could persist for years.  ... People are demanding more money to take a new job.  The 'reservation wage'  as economists call the minimum compensation workers would require,  was 19 % higher for those without a college degree in March than in November, A difference of nearly %10,000 according to a survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.   Employers are feeling it. A survey of human resources executives from large companies conducted in April by the Conference Board (a research group) found that 49 % of organizations with a mostly blue collar work force found it hard to retain workers - up from 30% before the pandemic."

According to Karen Fichuk,  CEO of the giant staffing company Randstad North America - quoted in the piece: "Companies are going to have to work harder to attract and retain talent. We think it's a bit of a historic moment for the American labor force."  

Indeed it is.  So that labor force is no longer totally at the mercy, at the beck and call of the capitalist honchos.  So they hate it, the increased freedom and latitude, as does the regressive Right that has no use for high worker wages.  (Look how they've battled against raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.)   Let's be clear here that the Right has always been in favor of an American labor surplus.  Create such a labor surplus and all the power resides with the capitalist employers.  They can pick and choose who they want and how much to pay, and even lowball salaries for the best talent. It is the workers who need the employers, their  jobs- however piss poor-  to live and survive.

Now limit the number of available or willing workers and the conditions are reversed.  The  labor surplus vanishes and workers are in a position to demand higher wages and improved benefits.    At the high end of the labor market that can also mean talented workers are emboldened to leave a job if employers are insufficiently flexible on issues like working from home. A tight labor market equals more leverage, more power for workers to call the shots.

It also forces companies, employers to be less picky about who they hire and what the qualifications are.  While Millennials with computer science degrees may have been ignored before - because of lack of experience -  they are now scooped up and often enrolled in apprenticeship programs. 

 Finally, it is well to point out here that the Fed  "wants  higher  wages."  ('An Employee Shortage Won't Sink The Economy',  WSJ, Exchange,  June 5-6, p. B14).   This is because it needs higher wages in order to reach its goal of inflation running at 2 percent over the long term. (Inflation is measured using a basket of goods and services that is meant to represent what people typically purchase. Items are given weights proportional to the amount spent on them.)

  According to the WSJ  Exchange piece: "It would also like to see labor get back some of the share of national income that it has lost in recent decades."   

Has the Fed suddenly gone soft in the head or veered to Bernie Sanders' socialism?   Not at all.  It simply understands that the more $$$ in workers' pockets, the more they will have to spend to prop up the GDP.  (Which is 70 percent due to consumption.).    This is something the dopey Reeps should have grasped but in 22 states they chose instead to cut off the unemployment bonus of $300 /  week.  Which dumb move I am betting will come back to bite them in the mid terms.  

The conservative media is dedicated to the trope that no one ought to be getting any 'freebies' from the government: no cash, no free child care,  no heating subsidies or any other 'entitlements'.  People have to 'pick themselves up by their own bootstraps'.  (Never mind they are foursquare for corporate welfare.)  This is why the likes of Maria Bartiromo and Kim Strassel can't handle workers getting unemployment bonus perks.  And that's despite being aware of how low wage, service workers are often shafted by their employers, e.g.

 At the end of the day, all the caterwauling shows the conservative media are not on the side of the workers of this nation. People need to be reminded of that fact next time they consider voting Republican - or have brain farts about voting for Donnie Dotard in 2024.

See Also:

by Ken Carman | June 12, 2021 - 2:29am | permalink


Unemployment is NOT "the public dole." We pay for it; one of those deductions some moan and kvetch about. The rest, like food stamps, are meant to keep people at a subsistence level. Keep them off the streets. Keep their children in at least tolerable health.  If it's too much, done it the wrong way, channeling funds to a dead end, well... let's have a civil discussion.

 The framing that all are lazy, etc. is crap. Some are looking for jobs as best they can. Some looking for jobs while having other responsibilities: kids; one parent families. Some are physically, maybe even mentally, unable. And it's not like suitable jobs are available all the time.


by P.M. Carpenter | June 6, 2021 - 6:13am | permalink


by Bruce T. Boccardy | June 7, 2021 - 5:48am | permalink


Publius said...

Why do workers have more power now? President Donald Trump.

But don't worry--Biden is flooding the country with illegal aliens to solve that problem.

Copernicus said...

Yeah, right. Thanks to Trump who went wild imposing tariffs that turned out to increase the prices of key goods that had U.S. workers against the rope. And who promised good jobs would remain in the USA then allowed them to be shipped out when the media wasn't looking. It was Biden's huge Covid relief package that enabled workers to have more latitude and choice in what to do, and you damned well know that too. Along with the fact Trump used unemployment benefits from the CARES act ti try to make people believe he was proposing a new stimulus package last summer. A con man, traitor and rat who will soon get his comeuppance.