America has been blamed for its implementation of imperialistic strategies, which made it the major decider in the global economy and the primary generator of the changes in the work characteristics. The activists and other protestors argued that the American model of forced democracy, which extended beyond the boundaries of the state, hurt the freedom of the countries with which the U.S. was interacting, but also that of the American workers, who were often prevented from forming unions that would protect their rights (Friedberg and Rowley, 2000).
Democracy allowed the U.S. employers to take the actions they considered suitable for the achievement of their profitability goals; this often activated in the detriment of the employees' interest. But despite this however, democracy also allowed the dissatisfied workers to voice their concerns and, through freedom of speech, they were able to join forces and demand the resolution of their stringent issues. The employees often militated for "people, not profits" (Friedberg and Rowley, 2000).
Basically, democracy is a model based on freedom and the preservation of the property and individual rights. In the field of work, it meant that employees are able to choose the employer they want to work for, as well as they are able to get the education they desire in order to attaint the wanted professional level. Finally, democracy allows workers to join forces and form unions that safeguard their rights. Employees are also able, due to democracy, to refuse and report the improper treatment received from the employer. Through the implementation of the internal codes of conduct or the punishment of discrimination, democracy has led to the creation of a highly complex and diverse workforce within the United States, a labor force which is able to handle any challenges the global economy may pose.
The Corporate Power
The forces of globalization have also led to the creation of multinational organizations, which in turn created scale economies and severely impacted the communities. The main beneficial effect of the corporations is that they offer consumers goods and services at low prices; however, the majority of the other effects are negative. The power that these dominant institutions have upon the economy is growing at a rapid rate and they have even been assimilated with forces such as the church, the monarchy or the communist party (Archbar and Abbot, 2003).
The most relevant example of such a corporation is Wal-Mart, which has often been accused of forcing the providers to sign unprofitable contracts, destroying the local businesses (such as the mom & pop stores), or the unfair treatment of their staff members. Current and formed Wal-Mart employees declared that they would be asked to put in extra hours without being paid for this; also, without any notice, they would be given a rather challenging task five minutes before their shift ended and were emotionally forced to complete that chore without asking for payment of the extra time. The workers have also complained that their wages are extremely low and that the company did not offer them medical coverage. In addition, they report that numerous acts of violence occurred in the parking lot of Wal-Mart as the facility was not guarded. Inside the stores, numerous individuals make sure that the customers do not steel the products, but once they get outside the store, they are on their own. The victims of such incidents were both employees as well as customers, and some of them ended with the death of the victim. All these arguments are integrated in Wal-Mart: The High Costs of Low Prices (2003), a film which reveals the extent to which the number one retailer would go to reduce costs.
5. Reflections and Conclusions
The workforce and the working environment in today's America have been subjected to endless processes of change and they have successfully evolved and adapted. The contemporaneous challenges seem however more complex than ever and they basically revolve around the effects generated by the democratic model, the forces of globalization and market liberalization (including immigration), the service-based economy in the detriment of an economy based on manufacturing, and finally, the growing power of the multinational corporations.
For a relatively new participant to the American workforce, it is rather difficult to assess these forces and their impacts. The young employee has already been introduced to a highly dynamic environment and is being formed in its mentality. The difficulty in coping with the system is mostly felt by the older employees, who after decades of service within the manufacturing plant of an organization, are being fired as the plant moves to Mexico. This situation does not only affect their financial stability, but also their morale. It then becomes clear why the contemporaneous working environment manifests reduced level of loyalty towards the employer.
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