Anti-work movement is growing in the US – supporters are firing in protest against working conditions

After graduating from college, Larry had a dream: together with his then wife, they wanted to become a power couple – a couple of influential and self-sufficient people. They were going to pursue their American dream, buy a house in the suburbs and go on vacation every two years.

In the end, the picture of an ideal life collapsed. According to him, his then-wife realized the illusory nature of the job and quit to take care of her children and her elderly father. It took him a little longer to figure it out.

“This is something that someone else put into our minds,” says Larry.

He is now 52 and unemployed. By the time the pandemic began, he was ready for a change. He left his job as a technician in South Carolina to be with his ex-wife and children in Colorado. When he was fired there, he returned to South Carolina to be with his mother. He now lives modestly in a 20-foot trailer in her backyard.

“I really don’t have any expenses. I do not need money. I can survive without them, ”he says.

Larry is a spokesman for a growing movement of people who refuse to work.

Some of them call it “anti-work”. The trend is popular among young workers, representatives of Generation Z, who are leaving their mark on the labor market. Similar movements are observed in other countries, especially in China, where young people abandon the race for productivity and labor competition, finding happiness in their own lives and leisure.

“I really don’t want to work anymore,” says Larry. “I don’t want any meetings, no deadlines, no goals, no quarters, no seminars. I don’t want any of this anymore. “

Over the past year, more and more people have become disillusioned with work, and Larry has formed millions of like-minded people. People are quitting their jobs at a record pace for six months in a row – and many are not going to return. This is because, for some, the work seems to have lost its meaning.

In the United States, wages have been declining for several decades while student debt has been rising. The number of people in low-paid jobs rose after the Great Recession as the wages that sustained the middle class fell.

Then a pandemic began: the collective wealth of billionaires rose by $ 2.1 trillion, and millions of Americans became unemployed. Inequality has increased.

The stories of the movement’s supporters are eloquent testimony to why the labor force is constantly in short supply. Whether the bosses realize it or not, it is actually a strike to improve working conditions. And this tactic can work.

The movement already has a million – and the number of participants is growing

Reddit group r / antiwork has amassed a million subscribers since its founding in 2013. Half of them joined in October 2021 alone. This means that tens of thousands of people – if not more – visit the group every day.

As they write on the forum, “anti-work” is to lead an unemployed lifestyle and find associates in the fight against exploitative working conditions.

“A lot of people mistake anti-work for laziness, as if nothing ever needs to be done,” says one of the moderators, u / rockcellist. “The truth is, obviously, something needs to be changed, but the current structure of things and the distribution of capital are unfair and should not exist.”

Photo in text: LightField Studios / Shutterstock

Cade, a Gen Z member from Kansas, was one of the contributors to his r / antiwork story after he retired from the service industry.

He had been thinking about leaving for some time. The final straw was the moment when the boss posted a sign informing workers that they could not use their phones during the shift, and if they were caught, the management could confiscate the equipment. According to Cade, management should not have the right to take his personal property.

Cade said he first started seeing messages from r / antiwork a few months ago, and that his own decision was influenced by other people’s stories of being fired and rethinking jobs. He’s already had at least one new job interview and has some savings to make it through for a while.

“I think I felt like I could be a bigger part of the movement,” Cade says. “I didn’t want to put up with it.”

Likewise, another Gen Z member, Caitlynn Nicholson, began posting on the forum after quitting her food service job to devote her time to woodworking. The group helped her see that she was not alone – she thought that problems such as staff shortages and overwork were only hers at work.

“I realized this was happening all over the place – companies say they don’t have enough workforce, but they don’t hire people, they just overload their current employees,” says Nicholson. “I think it’s good to know that … that you don’t have to put up with it.”

Nicholson says that once she warned her boss that she could not work on a certain day, because she needed to take the car for repair. He said that if she didn’t come, she would be fired. She never came.

Working with wood is rewarding, she said. “Once upon a time people created things for themselves and worked a lot at home. I think that now we value it not as highly as we should. “

“Employers simply won’t have people to run their business.”

The pandemic has sparked an increase in discontent over the working conditions created over the past couple of decades. Some employers seem to be shocked by the shortage of staff, as well as by the fact that the situation is changing: now workers themselves can suddenly stop communicating.

In September, a Florida barbecue restaurant closed after only four employees remained. Later, the owner of the establishment wrote a post on Facebook in which he blamed the pandemic and the political system that made workers more attractive not to work for the failure.

The new generation, which is changing the composition of the workforce, can play a key role in raising the requirements for better conditions.

“I think it has a lot to do with Gen Z,” says Cade. “They just won’t put up with employers’ shortcomings.”

Either way, employees say employers need to be careful. Steve Rowland, host of the Retail Warzone “horror stories” podcast, predicts that the situation could get worse in December as factors such as the pandemic, supply chain problems and rebellious customers converge.

“The workers are finally going to say, ‘We’ve had enough,’” says Rowland.

And, according to Cade, if people continue to quit at this rate, “employers simply won’t have the people to run their businesses, and they’ll go bankrupt, be forced to close down or change the way they work.”

A source.

Cover photo: YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV / Shutterstock

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