These are not good times for American workers. Real wages are lower today than they were before the recession of 2001, and barely higher than they were thirty-five years ago. Health insurance is more expensive and harder to obtain than ever before. Manufacturing jobs continue to move overseas. The unions whose efforts might arrest these trends continue to struggle under a sustained assault that began when Ronald Reagan fired striking air-traffic controllers in 1981, in effect declaring war on the labor movement.
This is a story with which you are probably familiar. But these are in no small part symptoms of a larger transformation of the relationship between employers and employees, in which Americans increasingly sign away their humanity when they sign an employment contract.
Let’s take just one component of today’s work environment that most people have simply come to accept: drug testing. An article published last year on Time magazine's web site titled, "Whatever Happened to Drug Testing?" reported that in the last decade, the proportion of employers testing their employees for drug use has declined to 62 percent, after having exploded to over 80 percent in the 1990s.
That's right -- "only" 62 percent of employers make their employees pee into a cup (or fork over a lock of hair, the current state of the art). The recent decline notwithstanding, the fact remains that most Americans work at places where drug testing is standard practice.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Paul Waldman in The American Prospect: