Public Employee Labordemic

Sometimes we have work to do and need to do things we'd rather not do. Because doing those things is stressful.

Do stressful jobs earn higher pay? What are the most stressful jobs? Are private sector jobs haven from stresses public sector workers experience - stresses after finding too late many in private sector do similar labor for better pay or benefits, finding that broken spirits, career disappointments, are not rare among public workers? Or is all involuntary paid employment service, public or private, an unavoidable tearing, wearing daily grind?

With COVID, and since then, further surging volleys of unavoidable and dislocating social chaos, the moment definitely came to recalibrate standards acceptable in the workplace, to reposition boundaries for safety and risk being asked of employed working parents. 

A worldwide wave of rioting was reaction to social media video showing some persons, veteran and long-standing senior police officers with a sworn lawful duty to maintain law and order, routinely delivering hands-on force or restraints ending lives of supects in broad daylight. All along, public safety workers, law and corrections officers know their jobs might bring lethal encounters. They all see things that cannot be unseen, do things that cannot be undone. That is the job, a terrible psychic risk because everyone learns sooner or later, killing another destroys one's soul. If only honor and generous pay actually did come from all whom they've sworn to protect. More than a few depart the stress they felt after ending a prisoner, suspect or detainee, never to return. 

Are harmful emotions, fears and hatreds, stirred by viewing graphic or inciteful social media  triggers that unlock deep, internal negative feelings, and those feelings spread because on open display, suffering, sorrows, hopelessness and cynicism simply out-infect gentleness, love, kindness and mercy? You might remember seeing police at community and neighborhood picnics, handing out gifts and food, but kissing and hugging does seem far from ever being an effective crime-fighting possibility.

Infectious pathogens are a large area scientific knowledge lags in knowing. Exactly what is harmfully infectious, where do pathologic insults come from, how do they fade or vanish then re-emerge later, worse than ever? 

COVID variants mutate invisibly inside asymptomatic infected hosts, while sheltered there 'learning' new ways to transmit more quickly and evade all-too-fallibile human immunity.  One harsh reality typical of almost all medicine: magic bullet cures that work bring side effects just as toxic as any sickness symptoms. No wonder PTSD is now reported a problem with over 50% of public-facing health workers (the one's willing to admit burnout) who say they are ready to quit.  In health care, serving needs of patients does improve chances some get better. Unfortunately, during a pandemic, for every grateful patient who survives, another asserts displeasure, categorically judging all caregiver professionals, including many who gained great skill giving service to others in the belief health care is most genuine when motives are ethical, conscientious or arise of deeply held sacred personal faith beliefs.

Sadly, the whole lot gets tossed out, everyone in health care now days, at some point, faces unsparing, unreasoning hostility and contempt - just because they occupy healthcare roles. Nurses, doctors, like law officers: serve and protect the public. Hesitate to give compliments at every chance, to praise for sacrifice on your behalf, your chance to do so later might never come. Cops defending victims from attackers usually are not there to help the attackers for no reason, and if someone falls, is found down, while CPR is attempted, it will be too late to give thanks unconscious from a guerney on the final ambulance ride to the emergency room.

Responses to COVID-19's world-wide pandemic included mandatory (and therefore highly unpopular) restrictions, wide-spread job losses from layoffs and business failures, deep market demand shocks that disrupted production and supply-chains crippled enough to cause acute shortages plus intense psychic stress during prolonged quarantines. The down-playing ephemism COVID-fatigue mocks what many went through: personal hell. For many, mental stresses generated by pandemic measures and rules became indistinguishable from communist brain washing because at some point, one feels so trapped, so limited and so confined one no longer controls one's own fate.

Even those not infected or symptomatic had unbelieveable stress watching loved ones die, there are measurable penumbras cast by pandemic on the never infected, grave issues such as short term memory loss lasting over 24 months experienced worst among those past age 40. There was lasting collateral psychic damage merely for having lived through terrible times of stress, misery, loss and chaos.

Regular and normal commerce patterns were reset, redefining what kinds of work was necessary, how it was to be done and who would willingly do it.  The post-pandemic workplace pattern now normalizes sterile tele-remoteness, replacing interpersonal informality with siloing designed to break apart and prevent face-to-face encounters inside closed office interior environments.  Try wandering into office personal spaces unbidden, any office, one that was always welcoming in former times, you'll quickly find out what a post-COVID team culture feels like. Unfriendly, tense with heart racing and the hair the on back of one's neck rising.

Unprecedented COVID labor market fallout includes Airline pilot pay and pension increases 46% over several years, and full-time UPS driver's pay in the next five years going up $25,000 because transportation is no longer what it was. Post-pandemic digital-commerce growth has radically changed retailing, altering traffic patterns, storefront layouts and city street infrastructures.

Stresses from long lingering pandemic social isolation have lowered respect and civility, reduced trust in justice and made violent, atrocious, unlawful outrages common.  Reality itself is disputed, people forget where the center of the earth is. Climate refugees flee megastorms, drought and heat, factory closings have dispersed communities that at some point end up ungovernable, scarred by endlessly statemated cultural warfare.  California is considering paying unemployment benefits to striking workers.

In MN, nomadic drifting and rootlessness peaks at age 18, economic precariousness and insecurity about food and shelter fuel cultural strife and criminality, with many feeling desperate or alienated, uncertain what their future holds. Take disengagement, detachment, dispair, then add ecological disaster -- no wonder faith, and volunteering for those less fortunate, remains definitely a go-to for those believing that holds well against anxiety, dystopia and chaos.

Work that was hard before COVID remains hard to do, but since dangers receeded, state office workers who were compelled to work remotely now are understandably reluctant to resume commuting to work, even when that means being required to furnish their own expensive office equiptment out of pocket. As many of half of remote workers quit when given no choice but return to the office, when asked, no surprise most answer a quick yes to take up to 15% pay cut to remain a remote worker permanently.  MN state government buildings have begun shrinking because inside there is mostly unoccupied office space. Even so, the harshness of COVID work policies lingers in worker's memory, their choices little or none in being whiplashed by constant and extreme compulsory policies.

Dislocating flip-flop directives perhaps arise from trying to follow perversely outdated federal wage and hour ideas, attempts at blended quasi-hybrid workplaces, both in and out of office premises, as best to realize proximity bias: even if remote workers work just as hard, it is believed if they worked nearer, the more work is in-office the better work quality and productivity achieved. A more devastatingly counter-intuitive approach is difficult to imagine.

Some feel extremely uncomfortable raising minimum wage for unskilled new or menial workers, only proven professionals merit raises, but everyone knows even the most highly paid and skilled position, if the work is remoteable, is now easily replaced by an automated artificial intelligence BOT.

There is a lot less interest in taking positions that cannot be done remotely, or are located where housing is unaffordable. Positions may be staying unfilled for lack of realistic, genuine pro-family benefits such as paid parental leave, or the employer lacks now-common medical benefits, including fertility treatments, or require relocating to where schools are either exclusive or in dangerous neighborhoods. Who raising a family would take a job where child care doesn't exist? The child care cliff predicted when COVID benefits for child care expired happened after, in MN, 96% of daycare providers received federal funds for about 70,000 children.

Fewer workers seem inclined to keep sucking it up, to sit quietly and take it when an employer plays rough, or acts strangely loose and goofy by denying knowledge that a long established contract exists, claiming to know nothing about what it contains, or what recent revisions were negotiated and passed after a legal union member vote. Lately in MN the National Labor Relations Board has made workplace abuses more a priority - because there are more abuses.

In a MN health care organization, unnegotiated, unacceptable pay cuts and deliberate understaffing finally drove 500 doctors to unionize. Total infrastructure capital funding allotments going to buildings and phyical facility spaces overshadow staff payroll budget by as much as a 1000-to-1. A new hospital might be a billion dollars of brand new steel, brick and mortar, or nursing or child day-care facilites the safest and most advanced possible, but somehow operating funds always end up barely covering short staffing at low wages.

Jobs Sit Empty in the Public Sector, So Unions Pitch In to Recruit (Unions Pitch In to recruit for Public Sector Jobs) Lydia DePillis, NYTimes - 20230727   Part1  Part2

DEEDS Leader Outlines Vision (State faces shortage of skilled labor, child-care challenges) Jesse Van Berkel, StarTribune, 20230727