Framing Workers

While extreme conservatives frame business owners and the 1% as job creators, George Lakoff makes an important point about the role of workers in business. Chapter 14 of his excellent Little Blue Book is titled “Workers Are Profit Creators.” And so we are!

Here’s what he recommends saying (emphasis in original, p. 85):

  • Workers are profit creators. Corporations can profit only if people work for them.
  • Health care benefits and pensions are part of the pay earned by workers. They are deferred payments for work done.
  • Health care benefits and pensions benefit the workers and the companies that provide them.
  • Health care benefits and pensions add to profits. They buy loyalty so that companies can avoid the costs of recruiting and training new employees as well as the costs of operating with untrained employees.
  • Corporations have an ethical responsibility to pay in full for work done. That includes benefits and pensions.
  • Corporations are ethically responsible for setting aside funds for workers’ deferred payments and not using them for anything else. Spending those funds–on capital investment, stockholder dividends, or payments and bonuses to top managers–is unethical.

I strongly recommend the book. But how do you think workers should be talked about?

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