A reader of my recent post, ‘The Great Strike of 2021’, asked the important question, if so many workers are withholding their labor (i.e. on strike) how then are they financially surviving? Here’s my brief reply of some of the possible ways they’re doing it:
“In answer, probably a combination of ways: perhaps a second family member is still working; or worker refusing to return is still getting unemployment benefits (note: extra pandemic benefits were cut but not traditional state benefits); or maybe his costs associated with returning to work are greater than not–i.e. if he’s low paid and has no health coverage at work or has to commute long hours, then it makes more sense to stay home and continue getting Medicaid or COBRA subsidy and save on transport costs; or makes more sense to collect the new child care benefits, stay home, and pocket the govt payments (can’t find child care anyway so why not); or maybe he saved a little from past stimulus checks, from rent assistance, and from extra pandemic unemployment benefits (now ended of course). Or maybe he sold a second car he doesn’t need any longer; Or refinanced the house if he has one; Or he’s working off the books somewhere in the underground economy, as you note. (lots of restaurants paying bartenders under the table for now since they’re unsure if demand will be permanent & Covid really over. Etc. etc. Workers are pretty resilient and figure ways to financial make ends meet even in a crisis. Just talk to anyone who’s been on strike for more than a month. They’ll let you know the ‘tricks’.
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