Quiet Quitting: Confused?

“Quiet quitting” is defined as workers who don’t leave their jobs, but only do what they were hired to do. Imagine that!

For more than a year, America’s corporate chieftains have been moaning about the “Great Resignation”: the recent phenomenon of workers just up and quitting their jobs. And now comes “quiet quitting”: workers who don’t leave their jobs, but only do what they were hired to do, quietly rejecting the endless extra (unpaid) tasks and weekend assignments that bosses try to pile on. What’s at work in the heads of all these workers?

Simple, barked one taskmaster way back in 1894. “Nobody wants to work.” And here’s an anti-New Deal baron in 1940, snorting that “trouble is everybody is on relief or a pension — nobody wants to work.” Then in ’52 came the same refrain: Everybody is “too damned lazy and nobody wants to work anymore.” Year after year, the exact same wail is repeated from on high, including this group gripe expressed in a corporate survey this year: “One in five executive leaders agree (that) ‘No one wants to work.'”

Given the historic continuum of executive-suite disdain for working stiffs, it’s no surprise that the top dogs are still blaming “sluggish” workers for today’s rampant job dissatisfaction. But it’s both hilarious and pathetic that high-dollar bosses are so inept at employee relations that they can’t keep the rank and file on the job, much less keep them quasi-happy. The corporate response has been to put a silly Band-Aid on this serious problem.

They’ve created new executive-level positions with titles like “Chief People Officer” and hired consulting firms with such names as “Woohoo” and “Happy Ltd” to come up with treats, trinkets and gimmicks, trying to make the workplace seem like a playscape: Beer tastings! Ping-pong games! Meditation periods! A Lizzo concert! Office slides! Company water bottles! Wine Wednesdays!

Seriously? Memo to CEOs: Try decent pay and benefits, rational scheduling, meaningful goals, real teamwork and personal respect. In a word: Dignity.

In the world of work, what two occupations might seem to have the very least in common? How about long-haul truck drivers… and school librarians? Yes, an odd pairing, but both are prime examples of workers who’ve had their workplace dignity stripped away. So, solidarity forever!

Start with truckers; the job is literally a grueling haul. You’re wrangling massive 18-wheelers some 500 miles a day for 2-3 weeks straight, putting up with traffic jams, storms, bad roads, lunatic drivers, helter-skelter scheduling, truck-stop food, sleeping in the truck — and battling fatigue, aches, your bladder and loneliness.

Trucking used to be a good union job, with decent pay and conditions — until the deregulation craze four decades ago brought in Wall Street profiteers and fast-buck hustlers who turned the industry into anti-union exploiters. As a result, the yearly quit rate for drivers is almost 100%! But rather than retaining drivers by upping pay and stopping their torturous treatment, the corporate bosses have rushed to Washington demanding access to an even cheaper pool of low-wage workers: teenagers. Yes — put an 18-year-old in that 18-wheeler… and keep them profits rolling!

And here’s another good job suddenly turned ugly: school librarian. Yes, while student enrollments rise and the need for these nurturers of our society’s literacy is greater than ever, their quit rate is soaring — not because of low pay or long hours, but because of raw right-wing politics. These dedicated, invaluable educators are literally being abused by demagogic GOP politicians and their extremist partisans who’ve launched an anti-librarian crusade, including book banning and harebrained witch hunting. Come on — how twisted are you to pick on librarians? Yet, they are under attack by political hacks, condemned by reprobate preachers and physically threatened by frenzied parents… and being fired by wimpy school boards.

Forget the “law” of supply and demand; today’s job market is being ruled by greedmeisters and political lunatics.

Jim Hightower
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