The American Worker is the true and authentic engine of the U.S. economy: hard working, innovative, unafraid of risk, productive, efficient, can-do, get the job done. We go to work every day to build, repair, maintain, clean, deliver, teach, inspire, heal, protect, invent, design, create, entertain, serve, manufacture, and on and on. We are the ones who actually get things done.
And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015), the 133 million American Independent Workers (non-union, “employed at will”) make up almost 90% of the U.S. workforce. But unlike our fellow union workers, American Workers are not bound together by an organizational structure with rules and dues; but rather, the resilience and power and spirit of the American Worker is guided and motivated by a set of values that we have shared for as long as there have been workers.
You might call it, A Values Manifesto for the American Worker.
We are loyal to our employers and owners
Every non-government job can be traced back to one person (entrepreneur) who had the guts and confidence to take the personal risk required to start and grow a business that created jobs. Therefore, we believe owners make the rules of their work domain because they take the personal risk and shoulder the responsibility to make our payroll every month. There is nothing stopping us from becoming owners ourselves and building our own organizations, culture, and values as we each see fit. It’s a free country, as we have always believed, so we each have the self-determination to decide and act as we choose.
We have always been willing to sacrifice and go with less for the company we work for if tough times demanded it. We generally do not file grievances or lawsuits. We work out issues with our employers face-to-face. We have always been loyal to our employers, unless of course, that loyalty is not reciprocated. We can always choose to walk out the door to a new and potentially better opportunity.
We are ready to do what needs to be done
Like most people, we do just about any task at home to take care of our families. We are prepared to do the same at work because it is, we think, the natural instinct of people to pitch in with a team, solve problems, and get things done wherever we find a need or whenever we are asked to help.
We believe arbitrary quotas and constraints that limit productivity go against the grain of the basic human impulse to continuously improve, go faster, work harder, produce more, and increase quality. We simply do as much as we can as efficiently as we can each workday while maintaining standards of quality.
We do not accept payment to not work. We generally do not need or collect unemployment. We reemploy ourselves almost immediately if we lose a job because our strong survival instincts drive us to always be prepared for adversity.
We accept the responsibility to survive on our own
We believe that in the working world, it is up to each worker to take full responsibility for their continuity of employment and to take care of their families. We believe that once a worker accepts that responsibility, they will take the actions to survive each and every day instead of waiting for someone else to take care of them. We believe that to enjoy the benefits of a free marketplace, each American Worker must own this responsibility.
Leaders (especially presidents) who politicize so-called workers’ rights and entitlements do a tremendous disservice to society by continuously promising what the nation does not have the cash to pay for without creating more debt. That kind of thinking and rhetoric is fueling a slow-burning bankruptcy in our cities, states, and nation.
We believe that we come into this world with no absolute entitlements except for what our parents can provide for us until we are capable of providing for ourselves the quality of life, safety, and happiness that we all seek and that we each earn with our own hands, minds, and hearts.
American Workers are survivors and take nothing for granted.
We care for those less fortunate than us
We believe that survival of the fittest does not mean that those less fit are left to struggle. We believe that if each community cares for their own family, friends, neighbors and citizens that are less fortunate, then we’ll all be okay.
We believe that we should all pitch in to support those that need some extra help as long as everyone else helps out in proportion to their means. We know that to maintain the continuity of work, a person must stay healthy, but some of us face adverse health issues and emergencies and disasters that come suddenly with no warning over which we have no control. The American Worker will be there to help. We make contributions to help the poor, chronically sick, disabled, and victimized. We do what we can to share and help out others that need our help, knowing they will do the same for us when the time comes.
However, we do believe that good health is enhanced by our attitudes and effort and determination to keep ourselves healthy. We don’t want to be sick, so generally we don’t get sick, and we don’t take sick days. When you hire the American Worker, you get 100% uptime. We live life to be healthy, to work hard and to play hard.
We always spend less than we earn
Wherever we are in our work journey and the pay we receive, we live within our means. How can an American Worker financially sustain themselves and their families any other way?
We pay all our bills. We pay our proportionate fair share of income taxes.
We generally do not file for personal bankruptcy because we do everything in our power to prevent it. We believe in resilience. We accept that the randomness of life and the axe of accountability will eventually strike us all, and when it does, we take our medicine and deal with it. We don’t believe democratic societies can or should bail out every person or organization no matter how too big to fail they are. We are skeptical of too big to fail bailouts when the loudest voices are coming from those that stand to lose the most wealth in their portfolios. The American Worker believes in one set of rules for all, both the haves and the have-nots.
We don’t expect anything free from anybody. We want to earn what we can based on our individual ability to earn; otherwise, it has no value to us.
We know what we are worth and we speak for ourselves
We do not require third-party organizations to establish our fair market value as workers. We rely on the marketplace to be a very efficient (if not brutal) system for establishing fair market value of the American Worker. Our leverage is our experience, skill, value, and the freedom of self-determination (i.e., you can take this job and shove it.)
We do not pay money to another person to sit at the negotiation table with our employers on our behalf. We are individually responsible for that task, and we save the money to invest directly in our professional and personal development.
The American Workers’ market value over the years has been, plus or minus, fair. It has never been propped up or guaranteed by a contract, lockout, walk out, picket line, strike, sickout, blue flu, quota, restriction, injunction, entitlement, you name it. We give our employer the benefit of the doubt that our pay is what our employers can reasonably afford for the business to be financially sustainable for the long term.It’s a free country, as we have always said, so if we cannot work out a mutually-acceptable level of pay, we can always go elsewhere or start a business of our own.
We always land on our feet
We don’t assume that any job can last forever. The world is global, competitive, and volatile, and we deal with that reality by preparing ourselves and always having a backup plan. We almost always remain employed but when we do lose a job, we are prepared to drop back a rung or two on the ladder (if need be) to rebuild ourselves with more experience and education/training, most of it low-cost to free in today’s online lifetime-learning world. When it comes to providing for and protecting our families, we never rest and we never give up.
We believe “chance favors the prepared mind,” and it also favors the prepared American Worker who is relentless about lifetime learning so that she or he is always employable at any age.
We make no excuses for adversity that inevitably will come our way. We go to the library, get online, and for free we learn and train to qualify for all kinds of good jobs on this planet. We don’t wait for an organization to train us and find us another job. We go get it on our own. We make getting a job a full-time job. Our attitude is to wake up at dawn and not come home until we find a job. That’s not to say that getting a job is sometimes hard, but we wake up each day with that attitude, day after day, for as long as it takes to get that next job.
We respect Organized American Labor and are appreciative of their contributions
We respect and appreciate what union workers have done for our country and the good job that they continue to do today. We believe it is critical in this world for independent and union workers to stand side-by-side to get things done.
But the fact is, American Independent Workers comprise 90% of the U.S. workforce. We are the independent, self-sufficient, lean and mean American Workers driven by several key principles:
- Subsidiarity: We believe in the Principle of Subsidiarity which says that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest, and least centralized competent authority.
- Trustworthiness: We are skeptical of the trustworthiness of all things BIG: Government, Corporate Business; Nonprofit Organizations, even Religions. Fundamentally, we believe that wherever wealth and power are concentrated, it inevitably becomes the breeding ground for unethical opportunistic behavior, greed, cronyism, corruption, and fraud. History driven by human behavior predictably repeats itself in this regard.
- Self-Determination: While adhering to the Rule of Law, we never hand over our individual self-determination to any person or organization if we don’t have to.
The American Worker is the Economy
The American Worker is the true engine of OUR ECONOMY which is not a politician’s or a government’s or a corporation’s or a party’s economy. It has always been and will always be, OUR ECONOMY, and the politicians are hired by and report to the American Worker. No one person (or President) has all the answers and the power and the money and the time to unilaterally lift our country’s economy up and forward in the face of increasing global competition.
Only each individual American Worker can make an impact starting at 8:00 am tomorrow morning, magnified by the strength and power and resilience of values shared among 133 million American Workers. We need not wait another 4-8 years for the federal government to come to the rescue. We, the American Workers, know what to do and together we can change the world for the better, right now.
Nose to the grindstone, let’s go get it done, just as we always have.
Back in 1967 when I was a freshman pledge at Theta Xi at the University of Illinois in Champaign, I had no idea that I would still be close friends with my pledge brothers 49 years later. Back then we were too immersed in the daily flow of being students at the U of I, pledges at TX, participating in intramural sports, dating, going to social functions, going to Illini games, and everything else that made up those glorious and unforgettable college days, to think about where we would be in a half-century.
Now say what you will about the good and bad of fraternities and sororities and their place in today’s diverse and politically correct world, I will stand by the fact that the friendships you will make at Theta Xi fraternity will be special and unique and as each year goes by you will appreciate that this is true.
My pledge brothers and I have come a ways since our days at the house: graduation, work, marriage, kids, grandkids, and now some of us retired. As the years have ticked by I’ve asked many alums about their experience at UIUC and most of them don’t come close to the bond and longevity of friendships we made at TX. So please consider my words as a voice from your future 50 years from now that if you and your pledge brothers work at it – because any lasting relationship whether it be family or friends or colleagues or girlfriends or wives, takes effort — you will come to cherish the same long-time friendships my pledge brothers and I do today.
There will be forces that will challenge your ability to hold on to these TX friendships once you graduate: working long hours, moving around the country (or globe) from one job to the next, and taking care of your marriage and family. These will be your top priorities during this period of your life as they should be. But my recommendation to you is don’t ever lose touch with your pledge brothers. It will be hard many years but all it takes is an occasional email or phone call to maintain the bond from year to year.
But the most important thing of all is when the various invitations come, show up! Nothing beats showing up, if you can. We all go through the same lifecycle of coming back for homecomings, birthdays, bachelor parties, weddings of fellow pledge brothers, then weddings of their kids, and then eventually, I hate to say, some funerals. Across all of these life events, being there is the greatest gift of respect and friendship you can give to a fellow pledge brother.
In 2016 my pledge brothers and I will meet up in Tucson, AZ for our 15th annual winter golf outing. We look forward to this event like no other. It is our annual “fishing trip” and it’s a great thing. We will have brothers coming from Arizona, California, Illinois, Ohio, Georgia, New York, Virginia, and Florida. And God willing, we will be doing this for another 15 years.
Because my fellow brothers, at the end of this fraternal journey these friendships will be all you have left from Theta Xi. -sp
I am loyal to my employer
I have always believed that owners make the rules of their work domain. There has never been anything stopping me from becoming an owner myself and building my own organization, culture, principles, and values. It’s a free country, as we like to say.
I have always been willing to sacrifice and go with less for my company if tough time times demanded it.
I have always been loyal to my employer, unless, that loyalty was not returned. I could always choose to walk out the door.
I have never filed a complaint, grievance, or lawsuit. I work it out face-to-face.
I am ready to do what needs to be done
I, like most people, do just about any task at home to help my family. So I do the same thing at work because it is, I think, the natural impulse of people.
I have never had a quota in the workplace, except to do as much as I can as efficiently as I can while maintaining certain standards of quality.
I have always thought that an arbitrary quota goes against the grain of basic human impulses which is to continuously improve, go faster, work harder, produce more, increase quality, and keep a goal on the horizon and constantly stretch to achieve that goal.
I have never been paid to not work.
I have never collected unemployment.
I don’t believe in entitlements; I accept the reality of survival
I have never had any workers’ rights other than the ones my employer provided to me. I have always believed that since the company (owners) make the investment and take the risk, they deserve to make the rules. It’s a free country, as we like to say, so if I didn’t like the rules, I could always choose to leave.
I have always believed that in the working world, it is simply survival of the fittest. I’ve always believed that once a person accepts that truth, they take action to survive each and every day instead of waiting for someone to take care of them. This is the only sustainable model that a free marketplace can afford.
Politicians (and presidents) who politicize so-called workers’ rights and entitlements do a tremendous disservice to society by continuously promising what the nation does not have the cash to provide. That kind of thinking and rhetoric has bankrupted our states and nation.
I’ve always believed that there is no absolute entitlement in this world for any of us for anything. There is only the quality of life, safety, and happiness that we can earn and generate with our own hands and heart.
My greatest insurance policy is my brain, my spirit, my health, and my determination to survive.
I am a survivor.
I take care of those less fortunate
I’ve always believed that survival of the fittest does not have to mean that those less fit are left to starve. If the fitter ones do what they can to help out those family, friends, and neighbors that are less fortunate, then we’ll all be okay.
I have never minded pitching in to support those less fortunate, as long as everyone else pitched in, in proportion to their means. I always considered myself lucky that I was healthy and could always work, and I know that others are not so fortunate. However, I always believed that my health was directly proportional to my attitude and determination to keep myself healthy.
I make contributions to help the poor, needy, disabled, and disenfranchised. I do what I can to share and help out others not as fortunate as myself.
I always spend less than whatever I’m earning at the time
I, and my family, have always lived within our means.
I pay all my bills; I pay all my taxes, so I have a good credit rating.
I have never filed for personal bankruptcy because, I simply refuse to. It may be stubbornness, but more importantly, it’s a value that my parents taught me, which is resilience. The randomness of life and the axe of accountability will strike us all, and when it does, we have to take our medicine and deal with it. Our world today can’t bail everybody out.
I don’t want anything free from anybody. I want to earn what I can from my own brain, spirit, and hands. Otherwise, it has no value to me.
I don’t want to be sick
I don’t want to be sick, so I don’t get sick and I don’t take sick days. When you hire me, you get 100% uptime.
I have always worked hard to keep my mind and body healthy, because without that, I can’t work and I can’t provide for my family. I never expected the government to assume that responsibility for me.
I have always paid a premium for my family’s health plan. I’ve always appreciated it if my employer paid my individual health premium, but I’ve never considered that an entitlement, just the good fortune to be working for a generous employer at the time.
My family lives life to be healthy, to work hard and to play hard. There’s nothing about a sick day that we like.
I know what I am worth and I can speak for myself
I have never had a third-party organization be responsible for establishing my fair market value as a worker. The marketplace is a very efficient (if not brutal) system for establishing fair market value of the independent worker.
I have never paid money to some unknown person to sit at the negotiation table with my employer on my behalf. I do that for myself and save the money so I can invest directly in my professional and personal development. I never hand my self-determination over to any person or organization if I don’t have to or need to.
I have never walked in front of my employer’s business with a placard shouting and complaining about what I don’t have, but instead, I focus on appreciating what I do have.
My independent employee market value over the years has been, plus or minus, fair. It has never been propped up or inflated by a contract, lockout, walk out, picket line, strike, sickout, blue flu, quota, restriction, injunction, you name it. It has always been what my employer could afford for the business they were in and still be able to survive. It’s a free country, as we like to say, so if I didn’t agree with it, I could always choose to leave.
I always land on my feet
I have never understood people who are crying in front of the TV camera, “What am I going to do?” They should have been thinking and planning and answering that question years ago. Nothing, especially a job, is forever.
I have always believed that if “chance favors the prepared mind,” it also favors the prepared worker (survivor) who is relentless about lifetime learning so that she or he is always employable at any age.
I have no excuses. I can go to the library, get online, and for free I can learn any vocation or skill that will qualify me for all kinds of good jobs on this planet. So what I am waiting for?
I have never had a third-party organization that provided me the education and training to get a job and to keep that job. I always did that for myself. If I lose my job, I wake up at dawn and don’t come home until I find a job. My parents taught me that, so that’s what I have always done.
I am appreciative of American labor
I know the history and purpose of unions and I really appreciate what unions and union workers did for our country during its formation, growth, and development. There is a time and purpose to everything, and a beginning, middle, and ending.
But in spite of my appreciation, I have never been in a union.
I am an independent, self-sufficient, lean and mean worker.
I have always been employed at will. The American economy is bankrupt and can’t sustain any other employment model going forward.
It’s a competitive world and I’m ready and willing to compete.
I am an independent American worker
Our story is never broadcast on headline news, so I thought I’d just say a little something about us.
* * *
- From 1999 to 2009, the aggregate real all-industry GDP of the 22 right-to-work states grew by 24.2%, nearly 40% more than the gain registered by the other 28 states in the group.
- From 2000 to 2010, real personal incomes grew by an average of 24.3% in the 22 right-to-work states, more than double the rate for the other 28 as a group.
- In 2009, there were 20% more 25- to 34-year-olds in the right-to-work states than in 1999. In the compulsory union states, the increase was only 3.3% — barely 1/6 as much.
- In 2010, an average of 59.2% of the public employees in the nine worst default-risk states were unionized, 19.2 percentage points higher than the national average of 40%. All of these states except Nevada authorize compulsory union dues and fees in the public sector.
- “The Right to Work: a Fundamental Freedom,” by Mark Mix, Imprimis, May/June 2011, Volume 40, Number 5/6.