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Revolt of the Essential Workers
Tablet Magazine ^ | October 25, 2021 | Alex Gutentag

Posted on 10/28/2021 5:10:25 AM PDT by billorites

Back before the COVID-19 pandemic started, the year 2019 saw anti-government demonstrations in Paris, Manila, La Paz, Port-au-Prince, Bogotá, Prague, Quito , Beirut, Hong Kong, London, Baghdad, Barcelona, Budapest, Santiago, New Delhi, Jakarta, Buenos Aires and more, earning the title “the year of the protest.” It was also a year of resurgent labor activity in the United States. After decades of declining union participation, the country saw 25 major work stoppages involving 425,500 workers, the highest number since 2001.

The economic discontent that propelled both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders to popularity had been building for many years. As a recent article in the journal American Affairs noted, $34 trillion of real equity wealth, in 2017 dollars, was created between 1989 and 2017. Nearly half that sum (44%) consisted of a reallocation of corporate equity to shareholders at the expense of worker compensation, while economic growth accounted for just 25% of that increase in wealth. In other words, despite the advent of seemingly near-miraculous, time- and space-saving digital technologies, the post-Cold War “economic boom” consisted mainly of America’s wealthy shareholders taking money from its increasingly insecure workforce.

America, and other Western societies, had moved from a model of real growth and expanding benefits for all to a model where the rich got richer by impoverishing the less wealthy orders of society—and the lower orders were fighting back. However, after lockdowns were imposed in March 2020, the balance of power abruptly shifted back toward billionaire oligarchs and large corporations. Tech-based U.S. monopolies widened their profit margins as workers and their children were confined to their homes and the Fed pumped money into Wall Street. As the Fed provided unlimited purchases of corporate debt and securities, millions of people filed for unemployment, nearly 1 in 4 households experienced food insecurity, and 200,000 small businesses closed. The result was an estimated loss of $1.3 trillion in household wealth for American workers. Meanwhile, U.S. billionaires gained $1 trillion.

COVID-19 stopped a nascent American workers’ movement in its tracks, as protests and acts of political rebellion were essentially banned. Amid intense fear and confusion, public health edicts effectively suspended the right to assembly. The concept of “social distancing” encouraged people to view their neighbors, colleagues, friends, and even family members as potential sources of disease. “Experts,” technocrats, and corporations became the heroes of the pandemic, while the masses became the villains.

When lockdowns began we were told that we were “all in this together,” but every measure since then has served to entrench inequality, sabotage the middle class, and enrich elites. Images of ultrawealthy celebrities parading around maskless at fancy events, surrounded by masked servants, have provided a powerful visual representation of the COVID-19 era—an era that has seen the greatest upward wealth transfer in modern history. As a result of lockdowns, between 143 million and 163 million people worldwide have fallen into poverty and there was a sixfold increase in the number of people suffering through hunger and starvation. At the same time, tech companies like Amazon, Alphabet, and Microsoft saw record profits.

Today, the U.S. is experiencing the fastest rate of inflation since 2008 and consumer prices have increased by 5.4%. The top 1% of the country has more wealth than the entire middle class, the top 10% own 90% of stocks, and BlackRock and other investment firms are buying up houses. It has been 83 weeks since “two weeks to flatten the curve.” Now, the question is not whether workers will accept temporary lockdowns, but rather, whether they will accept a permanent COVID-industrial-complex that continues to erode their quality of life.

John Deere is expected to see record-breaking earnings of between $5.7 billion and $5.9 billion this year, and the 10,000 UAW members now on strike hope to see their fair share of this windfall. Currently a total of 100,000 U.S. workers from John Deere, Kellogg’s, Warrior Met Coal, Kaiser Permanente, InstaCart, and many other companies are either on strike or have threatened to strike. Will this resurgent labor movement and the growing resistance to vaccine mandates be able to challenge the top-down class warfare of the COVID-19 era?

When “two weeks to flatten the curve” began, the workforce was split in two: Some were defined as “essential” workers, and others as “nonessential.” The “nonessential” ordered delivery from home while farmhands harvested crops, workers in meatpacking plants processed and packaged products, truckers shipped food across the country, cooks prepared dishes, Doordash “dashers” dropped off takeout on doorstops, and sanitation workers picked up the trash. This division allowed the professional class to be protected from exposure to the virus and set the stage for a two-tier society. These tiers are now upheld by medieval protocols that require service workers to remain masked while patrons show their bare faces, and by vaccine pass systems that disproportionately impact and exclude poor and working-class people, especially people of color.

In conjunction with this sharp class division, government assistance has often benefited the wealthy. In total, eligible Americans got $3,200 through three stimulus checks. However, the first stimulus bill, the CARES Act, provided 43,000 millionaires with $1.7 million each through a tax break, and the second stimulus bill included a $200 billion giveaway for the rich. The CARES Act also bailed out many corporations with few strings attached. In the case of the airline industry, for example, executives used taxpayer money to give themselves bonuses while laying off tens of thousands of employees.

This imbalance is part of what has fueled the ongoing worker revolt. A common theme in worker demands is that they have worked grueling and difficult jobs throughout the pandemic, in some cases barely making a living wage, while executives and shareholders hoard the profits. Another common theme is worker burnout and staffing shortages. In California 24,000 health care workers voted to authorize a strike, citing critical shortages in a third of the state’s hospitals. 78% of registered nurses in the U.S. have reported unsafe staffing conditions, and the NIH has found that increasing a nurse’s workload by just one patient raises the chance of patient mortality by 7%.

Staffing shortages have only been exacerbated by vaccine mandates. In New York state, 83,000 unvaccinated health care workers faced termination before a judge filed an injunction requiring the state to recognize religious exemptions. In the end the mandate reduced New York’s health care workforce by 34,000 workers, and New York’s governor has deployed the National Guard to replace staff in overwhelmed hospitals.

Perhaps the greatest impact of mandates could be on the trucking industry. A poll of truckers found that 26% of respondents would rather be fired than get the COVID-19 vaccine, and another 10% said they would quit before getting the vaccine. The American Truckers Association has come out strongly against vaccine mandates, with union President Chris Spear stating, “The first rule of any public health policy should be ‘do no harm.’ Unfortunately, these latest mandates and the unintended consequences they’ll create fall short of that standard.”

The consequences of a labor rebellion against artificially low wages and vaccine mandates may be even more profound during the winter ahead. Recent supply chain woes are caused by a combination of an energy crisis in China, the long-term effects of lockdowns, and a shortage of 80,000 truckers. These factors have created a feedback loop of backlogs and congestion, leaving nearly half a million containers and dozens of cargo ships waiting at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, which handle 40% of inbound containers for the U.S., while hundreds of sailors are stranded at sea on cargo vessels that cannot be unloaded. American citizens are beginning to see the effects of this supply chain stress, with some school districts struggling to feed students, changing their lunch menus, and even considering remote learning due to food shortages.

In the midst of this looming crisis, many transportation, logistics, and frontline workers remain adamant that they will not relinquish their bodily autonomy. Over a third of Chicago’s police force has defied the city’s vaccine mandate, with the mayor accusing the union of attempting to “induce an insurrection” and threatening to withhold benefits from officers who opt to retire instead of getting vaccinated. Seventy-three unvaccinated school bus drivers were already forced to quit ahead of the first day of school in Chicago, resulting in lack of transportation for over 2,100 students. The city also faced off with unvaccinated teachers before finally giving up after 15% of school district employees refused to get vaccinated.

Similar chaos continues to brew in many parts of the country. Forty percent of TSA agents remain unvaccinated, as do hundreds of thousands of military personnel. About 12% of Washington state’s health care workers did not meet their vaccination deadline, hundreds of Los Angeles firefighters are now suing the city for $2 million each, and the San Francisco MTA warned of possible disruptions to transit. Southwest Airlines was recently forced to cancel over 2,000 flights in what was widely rumored to be a pilot “sick out” over the company’s vaccine mandate. Later, Southwest employees publicly protested the mandate, and the company has temporarily relented. Each local mandate battle ultimately contributes to a national high-stakes game of chicken that pits working people against a wealthy, increasingly authoritarian overclass.

The vaccine has provided the perfect pretext for ideological purges of major institutions and industries, but these purges may backfire. Currently, a considerable amount of human labor is still needed to keep society running. Although much of the pandemic response has resembled a controlled demolition, the potential for a transition to full automation, a rent-only economy, self-driving vehicles, and centralized biometric IDs has not yet been fully realized. As with countless ventures that come out of Silicon Valley, the capital and marketing plans have preceded many of the necessary technological developments.

For months, academics, scientists, managers, administrators, and journalists dismissed the hardships felt by essential workers as necessary to “save lives.” Now, after treating so many people as disposable pawns, the professionals who provided justifications for lockdowns and vaccine mandates may experience the repercussions of these policies in the form of strikes and shortages. If workers can create enough inconvenience for the intelligentsia and enough loss of revenue for corporations and elites, they may be able to gain some ground. While COVID-19 policies once served to undermine mass mobilization and organizing, a tight labor market is now providing a unique chance to reverse this trend.

TOPICS: News/Current Events
Yesterday, for the second day in a row, the Post Office in our small town was closed. Sign on the door said, "Due to Unforeseen Events..."

Not clear whether it's just understaffed or a labor event.

Things are getting real.

1 posted on 10/28/2021 5:10:25 AM PDT by billorites
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To: billorites

Biden & Dems have been totally disrespectful to the ‘essential workers’.

THOSE people worked during the worst of the unknowns about the Covid explosion-—not knowing enough to even make an informed decision about even continuing to WORK.

NOW-—They are demanding JABS of people who worked and worked and worked.


All those persons worked everywhere when the explosion of sickness was growing all around them & NOW?

NOW?? You will be fired if YOU DON’T GET A SHOT FALSELY CALLED A VACCINE ??????????

Those persons are NOT WORTHY????


2 posted on 10/28/2021 5:21:23 AM PDT by ridesthemiles ( )
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To: billorites

‘I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”
John Galt

3 posted on 10/28/2021 5:22:01 AM PDT by labordog (labordog)
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To: billorites

Essential workers in 2021 are either:
*Located in China if the job could be exported
*Done by illegals if it has to be done in the USA

4 posted on 10/28/2021 5:22:16 AM PDT by Renfrew
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To: billorites

What I have seen personally, is the elites really don’t care.

Do you think Bezos or Biden uses the post office? Has any issue with healthcare? Or does Gates have problems finding food at the local grocery store?

They don’t care. It is about power.

The next move will be around Thanksgiving, when people grok that there will be no turkey this year, and old Joe goes up and says “It is the unvaxed’s fault you don’t have a turkey”.

5 posted on 10/28/2021 5:23:21 AM PDT by redgolum (If this is civilization, I will be the barbarian. )
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To: billorites

“Yesterday, for the second day in a row, the Post Office in our small town was closed. Sign on the door said, “Due to Unforeseen Events...”

Must be 85 paid Holidays a year aren’t enough?

6 posted on 10/28/2021 5:27:52 AM PDT by Beagle8U ("Per DNC instructions...Joy Reed is busy packing marbles up her @$$.")
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To: billorites

Things are mostly going as planned. All vestiges of old America must be destroyed and replaced by the new world “democracy”.
Including the “racist” white Christian heterosexual Constitution.
To be replaced by the new Woke mandates.
Basically limits and restrictions on nearly everything.
And a rise in underground markets.
Where you’ll be able to buy everything from drugs to young boys and or boys dressed as girls or maybe a human organ or perhaps just a fake permission slip that allows you to travel from one state to another.
It will be nearly impossible to fly anywhere.
Unless you are a politician.
Then there will be few restrictions.

7 posted on 10/28/2021 5:30:39 AM PDT by Leep (Save America. Lock down Joe Biden)
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To: Beagle8U

The post office probably only has a few workers. I am not surprised that they would be closed. Any event could cause a closure.

8 posted on 10/28/2021 5:36:34 AM PDT by moviefan8 (#restorethesnyderverse)
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To: labordog

Great slogan if you are an athiest.

9 posted on 10/28/2021 5:38:58 AM PDT by FreshPrince
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To: labordog

I have never liked that quote. I do live for the sake of others; my wife, my children, my grandchildren. And I would gladly die for their sake.

John Galt might be the future, but it will be a lonely future.

10 posted on 10/28/2021 5:50:50 AM PDT by wbarmy (I chose to be a sheepdog once I saw what happens to the sheep.)
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To: billorites

“It has been 83 weeks since “two weeks to flatten the curve”

Until Nephilim-dna tag hybrid worker. World Economic Forum.
Sinister DNA augmentation.

11 posted on 10/28/2021 5:57:41 AM PDT by Varsity Flight ( "War by the prophesies set before you." I Timothy 1:18)
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To: billorites

Good article + 2 other unmentioned points that will exacerbate the problem

> Flooding the country with half a million (unvaccinated) illegals so far this year that will either enter the labor market, draw benefits or both

> inflation where Wall St can raise prices / profits while the working class has no defense

Thx for the post

12 posted on 10/28/2021 6:04:38 AM PDT by jcon40 (Machinery is only as good as its design and quality of parts. A citizen is only as good )
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To: billorites
nearly 1 in 4 households experienced food insecurity

The definition of food insecurity ranges from actual starvation to having insufficient food variety or making changes in your diet for financial reasons. So if you eat beans and rice three days at the end of the month until your next pay or welfare check or you put down the ground chuck to get the regular ground beef you can be counted as food insecure.

13 posted on 10/28/2021 6:04:44 AM PDT by KarlInOhio ("Anti-fascist" is from the official name of the Berlin Wall: Anti-fascist Protection Barrier.)
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To: Varsity Flight

clustered regularly interspaced short palindrome repeats


Invasive altered human genetic code sequence.

Spiritual wickedness in high places.

14 posted on 10/28/2021 6:14:22 AM PDT by Varsity Flight ( "War by the prophesies set before you." I Timothy 1:18)
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To: Beagle8U

Though postal workers were exempted

15 posted on 10/28/2021 6:54:57 AM PDT by Osagegirl
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To: Renfrew

Call them ESSENTIAL-—And then continue to INSULT them all.

This will NOT end well.

16 posted on 10/28/2021 7:02:17 AM PDT by ridesthemiles ( )
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To: KarlInOhio

How many are still buying drugs & alcohol???

17 posted on 10/28/2021 7:03:54 AM PDT by ridesthemiles ( )
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