Historian Michael Beschloss explained on Friday why he believes labor unrest in America will permanently alter the relationship between workers and employers in America.
"Labor strikes erupting nationwide, a potentially seismic pandemic era shift," MSNBC anchor Ari Melber reported. "This isn't business as usual: Over 100,000 workers going on strike."
The host mentioned a New York Times column by Paul Krugman.
"What seems to be happening instead is that the pandemic led many U.S. workers to rethink their lives and ask whether it was worth staying in the lousy jobs too many of them had," Krugman wrote.
"For America is a rich country that treats many of its workers remarkably badly. Wages are often low; adjusted for inflation, the typical male worker earned virtually no more in 2019 than his counterpart did 40 years earlier. Hours are long: America is a 'no-vacation nation,' offering far less time off than other advanced countries. Work is also unstable, with many low-wage workers — and nonwhite workers in particular — subject to unpredictable fluctuations in working hours that can wreak havoc on family life," he explained.
Melber asked Beschloss whether he agreed with Krugman's take.
"Well, working people — I define that broadly — are renegotiating their relationship with corporations and management and ownership and the very powerful financial sector in this country," Beschloss replied.
"And I would begin by saying, American organized labor did build the American middle class. There is no question of that," he explained.
Melber asked if momentum would "fade when the pandemic fades or is it more complicated than that?"
"No, I think it's not going to fade. I think it's a very good thing because, you know, with the pandemic, all of us have changed, I think, our attitudes about work and how much time you spend with your family, how much time you spend at home, how much you put up with work, if you have a job that you do not like or you hate," he explained.
"You know, we always hear about disruption, this pandemic lockdown has been one of the biggest disruptions in American history and a lot of people — I'm sure you would say that about the people you know just as I would — have very different ideas of those things from the ones they did just two years ago," he explained.
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