Unions, working in concert with companies and other activists, constructed an image of full-time employment with breaks and a retirement at the end, a conception of work we have had for almost a century and widely held by the generation now holding political office.
These days, there is a substantial challenge to this model from students and younger workers in the workforce who hold very different values than previous generations. They are more likely to pursue “passion careers” and thus, they desire a job that is flexible and pays decently well to allow their other goals to succeed.
…Perhaps most importantly, younger workers value these characteristics of jobs even more than they value higher salaries. This can seem like heresy to the parents of these younger workers, but my generation has also seen what cutthroat competition and a persistent focus on material acquisition has done to our parents’ generation. We don’t want to simply repeat history.
…Of course, such systemic issues are going to take significant time to debate. American culture deeply valorizes work, and so the idea that someone should be living comfortably with only a day or two’s worth of work seems alien. We simply can’t wait for our entire culture to adapt to this new talent market before ensuring that workers are protected. There’s a lot at stake.