There is a popular reddit forum titled "antiwork" that describes itself as "A subreddit for those who want to end work, are curious about ending work, want to get the most out of a work-free life, want more information on anti-work ideas and want personal help with their own jobs/work-related struggles." It's been kind of a controversial sub because of the name and political goals, but there was a big deal made in the end of January 2022 when one of the moderators of the antiwork sub did a bad interview with Fox News and embarrassed many in that community. In the fallout of that interview, there was a lot of drama and infighting in the sub which led to moderators locking it down so no new content could be posted. It was closed temporarily.
A new subreddit was created titled, "Work Reform" which describes itself as "a movement fighting for a good quality of life for everyone who sells their labor." I captured one of the early comments on this sub, which I believe does a good job capturing the motive for the movement, why there was a split from antiwork, and explains the frustrations people face in the workforce:
"The antiwork subreddit logo was a stick figure laying down, symbolizing laziness. How many of you talked about how great the antiwork sub was to someone, only to immediately have to clarify, 'Oh it's not actually about quitting your job and not working. It's about pushing for basic workers' rights and calling out bad employers'? The biggest appeal of antiwork to a lot of us was that far too many of us have had similar personal experiences with shitty/illegal work practices that you only tolerated for survival purposes such as:
-Wage theft: the most common form of theft in the United States, which increased during the pandemic. Commonly done via timecard manipulation and skimming tips. Did you fellow Americans know that if you're a tipped employee and your hourly wage + tips is less than the standard employee federal minimum wage (or more in some states), then your boss is supposed to pay you the difference (Https:/www.dol.gov/general/topic/wages/wagestips)
-Hourly employee hell: Deliberately low hours per week so your employer doesn't have to pay benefits and/or overtime, despite having the money and ability to do so. So then you work multiple jobs, none of which will give in to the other over scheduling conflicts or even pay attention to your requested days on or off. One may finally offer more hours for you to quit the other one and increase your availability, only to never do it after you uphold your end of the deal. Or worse, you agree but then they manipulate your timesheets. And of course, there's always shitty customers that managers will side with no matter what, thus encouraging said shitty behavior to continue and grow even worse.
-Low-mid salaried employee hell: So you escaped hourly hell. It may not be a huge salary, but at least you don't have to predict your paycheck amount when deciding what groceries to buy. Welcome to a different hell now. No mandatory overtime pay means you're going way over 40 hours a week. You're now doing the work of 3+ employees so that the owner gets their money's worth out of you. Your boss also doesn't comprehend the difference between free time and availability, so you better be able to come in 24/7/365. Say goodbye to your holidays, because your boss wants them off more than he wants you to have them off. Hope you're not married with a kid, because you now get home after they're asleep and leave for work before they wake up. Every employees fuck up is also magically your fault too because 'you should have known better'
-Job application hell: r/recruitinghell already exists, because the concept is already normalized and joked about. Uploading and sending your resume just to have to type it all in again. Needing 4+ years prior experience for entry level jobs. Needing 10+ years experience and all sorts of certs for an office job when half of the current employees don't even meet the requirements themselves according to LinkedIn. Internships not counting as work experience when you interned at the same company you're applying for. Job postings that lie about pay. Job postings that hide the pay and then get mad at you for making sure you're not about to relocate for a pay cut. Interviewers asking you about your weekends and your 5 year plans, when in reality they want to see if you go to church or if you may become pregnant in the near future. Jobs that say "we'll be in touch" only to never contact you again and leave the job position unfilled. Fake job postings to try to trick you into a cashier check scam or an MLM ( hence why r/antimlm exists too). Fake job postings that were meant to support an internal promotion the entire time. You apply nonstop, yet somehow it's entirely your fault for not finding something every single time.
-Work conditions hell: As if long hours, shitty pay, and shitty people weren't bad enough, a lack of basic regard for your health and safety is also prevalent. You think being sick means that you can go home and avoid infecting others? You think scheduling a day off for a doctor's appointment months in advance means you're actually getting that day off? You think your workplace fire suppression systems and eye wash stations are properly inspected and will actually work if needed? You think that your company getting fined for a hazard was the same moment that they became aware of the safety issue? Just like how OSHA exists because people couldn't do the right thing the first time, Unions are similar in that regard. I've seen both good and bad unions, but to many it's their only hope for change. Don't want to worry about your subordinates unionizing? Rather than paying hundreds per person per day to a company to spread anti-union propaganda, have a decent enough work environment so your employees won't feel a need to fight for their rights by unionizing in the first place.
And that BARELY scratches the surface on any of the bullshit. Then there's also gig economy hell, internship hell, legal ways to pay sub-minimum wage to minors and disabled workers, legal ways to discriminate with hiring practices, corporations against Work From Home solely for power/real estate purposes, lack of overall accountability on issues, and so much more.
According to FRED, (fred.stlouisfed.org/series/UNRATE) peak unemployment in 2019 before the pandemic was 4%, and as of December 2021 it was 3.9%. If your workplace is still struggling to find employees then that's your workplace's fault. Saying 'NoBoDy WaNtS To WoRk AnYmOrE' or 'ThE GoVeRnMeNt Is PaYiNg PeOpLe To StAy HoMe' is a pathetic cop out of an excuse used to preach to the people who have outsourced their critical thinking skills in order to support what they wanted to believe in the first place. Take a wild guess which types of jobs are less likely to be eligible for unemployment benefits in the first place.
These are the sorts of issues that antiwork meant to me and to many others. We now have a new sub with a more mature and more accurate name, and I'm embracing it because way too fucking many of you will read this one day and say to yourself 'I've had one/all of these hypothetical examples happen to me, and also have other examples that many seem to relate to as well.'"
Things I don't like about the antiwork sub is some of the extreme positions which are very dramatic and unrealistic, or irrelevant to the cause. Some posts describe things that employers are doing which are blatantly illegal in a "what should I do" scenario or other instances that are too obvious like, of course you should call police or you have an easy legal action case, duh. However, I do understand that in many cases there are circumstances where people are being abused at work and they can't really fight against it in legal action because they don't have the time or means to pursue that course. Many employers get away with bad behaviors because of this. In some instances, a labor board is a free option that can blow the whistle on illegal practices and fine employers.
What I do like about this sub is the spotlight it shines on shared, negative experiences and how we should change, how we can do better in our society. Many posts have valid concerns and points about work life struggles. For example, this post is an example of what people want and what many Americans want from European "socialism." It's titled, "I moved from the U.S. to Denmark and wow." The author then writes, "It legitimately feels like every single job I'm applying for is a union job. The average salaries offered are far higher (Also I looked it up and found that the minimum wage is $44,252.00 per year). About 40% of income is taken out as taxes, but at the end of the day my family and I get free healthcare, my children will GET PAID to go to college, I'm guaranteed 52 weeks of parental leave (32 of which are fully paid), and five weeks of paid vacation every year. The new American Dream is to leave America."
Most people actually do want to work fulfilling jobs, but they want to be compensated well with good wages and benefits and overall just treated fairly and respectfully. People want an overall better quality of life than we're currently dealt and see this as an example that we can do better.
Here's an interesting round that was started from this post about how practically every job requires a college degree these days. The post read:
Quit requiring candidates to have a college degree when:
a) you pay $14.00 an hour with no benefits
b) the skills for the job can easily be taught
c) you're not invested in their advancement or future
Everyone and their mother.
Juan C. responded to this post saying: "While I agree to a certain extent, how do you make sure that candidates have a certain level of interpersonal skills, verbal skills, and educational skills that may make the candidate fit for the position? Example: a receptionist, just for the sake of the conversation. How do you ensure that candidate knows how to represent the company values and uses the right verbal communications at work? The reason why those requirements are in place is to make a recruiter's life easier. Unless you know the person who is the candidate, it's tough to get a feeling while screening them. I've been screened and have screened people. Most of the time recruiters spend little to no time before redirecting to companies. This is my opinion, good for thought."
Jordan responded to Juan and said, "I don’t think a college degree determines whether or not a person knows the right verbal communications. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a teacher use the wrong form of there/they’re/their....it makes me cringe."
Juan: "Very true. Hence, that's the reason why I said it makes it easier to the recruiter. If that's with a college degree, I can only imagine the ones without. There are exceptions to all cases but it's one way to filter candidates without effort."
Tawonda now jumps in and responds, "Juan, the disadvantage to hiring over qualified/college graduates for lower paying/lower level positions is that they typically leave as soon as a better position becomes available. Ultimately the company loses by paying expensive talent acquisition costs repeatedly."
Brianna now adds in as well saying, "You interview them! If your job is to hire people and find candidates then you should know how to discern a candidate without having to rely heavily on whatever their background says on paper. You should be good enough at your job that you are able to read a candidates acumen for a certain role."
Robert finishes off by saying, "What? I read this and the pay rate is $14/hr and some employers want a college degree? That is insane. Not sure why anyone would want to work for an employer that pays so little for a degreed person. Does this same employer want years of experience also? Walk away from these companies."
Yes, Robert. This is one of the several reasons why there is a "Great Resignation" movement. People deserve better.
I'm going to conclude this post with a few snippets from a fantastic post titled, "What radicalized you to the anti-work movement?" The comments are well worth a read to get an idea of what this is about and why the sub boomed in popularity.
"I've been sympathetic for a long time because so much of what I see here is really just a call for basic human dignity and respect. The thing that radicalized me is becoming friends with Thomas through my church's homeless outreach; he has three jobs but can't afford an apartment. I cannot support such a cruel system."
"I’m a social worker/therapist and I would say that the common thread tying all of us together is how the capitalist system routinely and by design completely fucks 99% of people. There are individuals struggling with depression/anxiety, even PTSD, not because of some childhood trauma - it’s the lack of hope and helplessness people are facing every day, working to barely survive with no long-term benefit."
"After I turned 26 and had to get off my parents health insurance I applied for it at the office I had worked at for five years. The owner of the company told me that providing health insurance for employees was 'a huge burden on the company.' My team had performed so well that year that the owning family rewarded themselves with new cars paid for with company money. The employees received, and I shit you not, a bag of chips and a candle. I realized then that employers are NEVER your friend. They will climb over your dead body to make a nickel of profit."
"Working in bankruptcy law during the 08 crash. I saw people losing everything who had done 'everything right' but got sick or lost their job due to the crash and their whole lives were falling apart. It made me suddenly realize that there was no 'middle class' safety like I’d been raised to believe. It was all a house of cards."
"Got into the same industry my father raised me in. He was able to afford multiple houses, cars, and raised three kids. I make the same as he did 40 years ago, accounting for inflation, and can’t even afford rent."
"When I realized my boss was pulling in almost 500k/yr for a store that I was running while he sat on his arse. Paid me 13$/hr. No benefits. No time off. I worked 6 days a week, open-close every day for 4 years. No vacations or time off in 4 years. Told me he couldn’t give me a raise last year cause my performance was suffering; shocker I was pregnant! Then magically was going to offer me a week paid vacation and 2$/hr raise when I found a job that offered me 17$/hr for much less stress and easier on my body."
Some of the stories actually sound like people that don't know any better got taken advantage of. Some people just don't know they are capable and qualified for better jobs out there. Changing jobs can be a scary thing because it's a big part of our lives to uproot and change. There are several stories of people that have dealt with poor wages and bad jobs/abusive managers for far longer than they should've.
I also wanted to share my thoughts on business investor owners, meaning people that make money from the business they own, but do very little or nothing at all to work for and support the business - all the management and work is hired out. I am fine with this as a way for people to invest and make money, but I have a problem with the ones that abuse it by paying poor wages and little to no benefits to all their staff while taking in large sums of the profit. Please offer meaningful, equitable profit sharing to employees on a monthly or quarterly basis at least. I wish all employers would do this at least.
Many people would like to see more of a political movement grow from the popularity of these threads, with the goals of better pay, maybe less hours with the same pay, better benefits such as increased paid time off, profit sharing/bonuses, and more. I support this cause, but in the meantime, Invested Alternative still provides a way for people in a movement like this to pool resources together into investments which help pay off debts and other donations to help and being able to make money in the process.
The main focus of our discussion is about what struggles people face trying to get into or maintain a middle-class life and prepare for a better future. What would help? We discuss jobs, economy, politics, inequality, other life observations, and most importantly, helping people. Get to know us better and join the conversation.