Dingus of the Week: Bosses
Here's to you, Jorts the Cat, the rights of man, and international revolution!
This is the Weekly Dingus, the Friday newsletter, where I round up my internet reads, share a drink recipe, and vent about something really dingusy that happened in the news. This week, it’s bosses. But once it was Nate Silver Another time it was Matt Damon. Will it be you? Stay on your toes.
This month, workers at Amazon unionized. And they did it without the backing of a major union.
I’m sure you’ve seen the story: Chris Smalls started the drive for a union after he was fired two years ago. He was fired the same day he organized a walk out to protest unsafe working conditions.
In the days after he was fired, an Amazon company memo revealed a corporate PR strategy to smear Smalls as “not smart or articulate.” That insult stuck with Smalls and helped motivate him to lead one of the most successful grassroots union campaigns in recent history.
In a recent conversation with NPR, Smalls said: “If I can lead us to victory over Amazon, what's stopping anybody in this country from organizing their workplace? Nothing. You know, people got to get out of that mentality of, Oh, let me just quit my job. Because when you quit your job, guess what? They hire somebody else. So you're jumping from one fire into the next, and the system doesn't get fixed by doing that.”
Smalls’ victory is one of the most famous recent stories of unionizing, but it isn’t the only one. Across America workers at Starbucks and REI are organizing. It’s also happening at media companies too. Conde Nast announced a union effort in March.
This organizing push comes after a summer of strikes. A Cornell University strike tracker reported that in the summer of 2021 over 140,000 workers went on strike to protest unsafe working conditions, pay, and health care benefits. According to the Cornell project, “Since funding cuts by the Reagan administration in the early-1980s, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) only documents very large work stoppages - those involving 1,000 or more workers that last at least an entire shift.”
If you listened to the people who owned the companies you’d think Americans just didn’t want to work — that the time off during the pandemic made them lazy. This idea has been laundered through Americas newspapers and cable news shows and I’ve heard it mumbled about and whispered about at the sidelines of kids sporting events and in bars and restaurants. People just don’t want to work. But the reality is, if you take wage workers, expose them to a deadly virus for two years without adequate healthcare, adequate protection, or a living wage, there are consequences.
People died to keep the wheels of corporate America churning and we still can’t provide adequate health care. This isn’t about laziness, it's about human dignity.
For too long corporate America has paid lip service to the idea of fairness, while still paying poverty-level wages. I once had a job, I was part of a team that had to investigate why employee morale was down. When we polled people, they all said, “Pay us more.” In the end, employees were asked to make popcorn every Friday. Morale was down the next year too, so they put together a new team to investigate why.
Even more enraging, Amazon, whose employees allege racist working conditions, recognized Juneteenth as a holiday.
This problem is replicated everywhere. While corporate profits are at an all-time high, the Federal minimum wage is stagnant. But sure, let’s blame American workers for being lazy.
I want to say something pithy, but I’ll just let Jorts the Cat take it away.
Also, if you missed the memo: Jorts the Cat is basically the modern James Connelly. So, here’s to you Jorts! The rights of man! And international revolution!