It Can’t Suck Forever (or, thoughts on the labor movement)
Not too long ago, I took a job outside of the nonprofit world because the pay was better. Currently, I work a job that I hate. Despise. It might be the worst job I’ve ever had in my life. I’m underpaid and I receive no benefits whatsoever. I would go into the details of this job more, but this is the internet y’all…I’d prefer not to post it where it will never go away. Let’s just leave it at “this job is pretty awful” and I’ll spare you the details.
One of the positives of this terrible job is that it has made me think. A lot. About myself, about what I’m capable of and what I want out of life. For example, I have long since learned that I am much better suited to work in the realm of people, not profits.
Lately my encouragement for myself has been “it can’t suck forever”. It’s the phrasing I use anytime I get upset about any issue or anytime I’m struggling. This too shall pass. Everything shall pass. It can’t suck forever. I’ll move on. I’ll find a better job. Things will get better for me. It works. Except, I have privilege. My privilege will allow me to eventually move out of a job I dislike. I can’t help but think about all the people that can’t. For them, maybe, this will suck forever. This won’t pass. They’ll be stuck in terrible jobs they hate. Underpaid. No health insurance. No paid time off. Nothing. Living paycheck to paycheck.
I’ve been thinking a lot about labor unions, and how all workers deserve a living wage, decent healthcare and some sort of retirement. American Airlines is casting its recent bankruptcy as caused by their labor union demanding too much by way of salary and benefits. Somehow, labor union members are cast as greedy workers who want to do as little as possible and get the most benefits for nothing. Is that true? Have we really come so far that WANTING to only work 40 hours a week, for a living wage, with healthcare you can afford and a guaranteed retirement too much to ask for? Do we resent labor unions because we all work ourselves to the bone, and suddenly because they are asking for what they deserve, it’s too much because we don’t receive it too? Seriously, fuck this “protestant work ethic” bullshit. It’s a pathway to exploit the many for monetary gain of the few.
It truly saddens me that support for the labor movement is so low, particularly where I am in the South. The labor movement is working for what we ALL deserve. I won’t deny the problems the labor movement has - because, let’s be real here, no movement is without its problems. However, is the labor movement really a thing of yesteryear?