Butler Shaffer on Workplace Influence and Fulfillment vs. Higher Wages

The common response of many is to assume that an increase in welfare payments to low-income people will relieve their sense of frustration by providing them with an increase in their means for value satisfaction. This line of reasoning is reminiscent of the response of automobile manufacturers to employee demands during contract negotiations: offer them more money. There is a sizable body of opinion which holds that the strong demands – enforced by periodic strikes – of the auto workers are not so much a product of wage dissatisfaction (auto workers are quite highly paid) as they are a response to the employees’ felt sense of frustration at being locked into a highly structure work environment, characterized by the orderly, impersonal, and predictable assembly line.

While these employees, like anyone else, are always interested in more money, the real needs that they are seeking to satisfy are those related to attaining a sense of identity, having greater control and influence over their work environment, and realizing a greater sense of fulfillment from their work.  Unable to realize these needs, they revert, as Maslow points out, to the expression of the lower order needs as a substitute.

– Butler D. Shaffer in Violence as a Product of Imposed Order, 34-35.

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