“Jobs: it’s how Americans prove they deserve healthcare,” joked Trevor Noah at the outset of Tuesday’s Daily Show, in which he discussed the wave of labor unrest in America’s “Strike-tober”.
“With more job openings than ever and more people quitting than ever, workers suddenly find themselves with a lot of leverage,” he continued as tens of thousands of workers from Hollywood to healthcare push for better conditions and pay. “And they’re using it to demand things like better pay, more flexible hours and cancelling the annual company Squid Game.”
Not all companies are agreeing to the demands. Last week, over 10,000 workers at farm equipment John Deere went on strike, the first by the United Auto Workers in 35 years. More than 24,000 workers at the healthcare conglomerate Kaiser Permanente voted to authorize a strike, and workers at the cereal giant Kellogg also walked off work.
“It’s none of the bad industries you wish would go on strike,” Noah lamented. “You know the people who collect student loans? They never go on strike. Or the telemarketers? Come on, you guys deserve better pay!”
On a more serious note, “going on strike is not a step that workers take lightly”, he added. “It’s a major decision, you know? You risk your job, you lost out on pay, you have to protest in front of your workplace but you can’t go in to pee. Which means that when people do go on strike, they probably have pretty good reasons for doing it.”
John Deere, for example, reported profits of $4.7bn in the first three quarters of 2021, spent over $1.7bn on stock buybacks in the first nine months and paid out $761m in dividends to shareholders; CEO John C May’s salary grew by 160% during the pandemic. But the company planned to eliminate pensions for new workers.
“Some of these CEOs get so greedy that they become shortsighted,” said Noah. “Because if they thought about it, they would realize they could probably get away with exploiting their workers for longer if they just exploited them a little less.
“I hope that companies start treating their employees like people, and not just money-making machines. And if they don’t do that, then they should at least be honest in their TV commercials,” he concluded over an amended Frosted Flakes ad boasting the brand as the “only cereal made with the tears of the people who made it!”
And on the Late Show, Stephen Colbert discussed the global supply chain issues plaguing American supermarkets. “Because of Covid lockdowns and labor shortages and a lack of shipping containers, everything you want is either not made yet, stuck on a boat, or waiting for a trucker who can’t drive because the Gatorade bottle he needs to pee in is stuck on a boat or hasn’t been made yet,” he joked.
“Now, global supply chain problems are leading to empty shelves at grocery stores. It’s so bad that Whole Foods has had to change their name to ‘Part Foods’.”
Supply chain issues have left shelves bare of fish sticks, frozen meals and, in a “devastating blow to divorced dads”, Marie Callender’s pot pies. “Brace yourselves, ladies and gentlemen, because America is running low on Ben & Jerry’s,” Colbert said. “I scream, you scream, we all scream ‘where’s the fucking ice cream?!’”
The company said it will focus on producing its most popular flavors – including Colbert’s own Americone Dream – but “you might be in trouble if you prefer one of Ben & Jerry’s less popular flavors, like Chunks of Real Monkey, Cherry Orbach, and Inattentive Hubby,” he joked.
The most concerning blow, he continued, is a shortage of wine. “Frozen foods? Fine. Candy? Who needs it. But a wine shortage? Me and my book club are buying zip ties and storming the Capitol.”
The shortage is due in part to a “glass bottle crunch” – “incidentally, ‘glass bottle crunch’ is one of Ben & Jerry’s least popular flavors,” Colbert quipped.