Tuesday, September 14, 2021

What To Make of Mean Progressive Bosses

Buzzfeed has a story about House Progressive Caucus chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)'s alleged terrible treatment of her staff. It reminds me a bit of the worker/boss antagonisms that torpedoed the NYC mayoral candidacy of left-wing activist Dianne Morales ("torpedoed" may be a strong word, since Morales never was winning that race to begin with, but you get what I mean). 

Certainly, it is not only stalwart progressives who get hit with the "bad boss" tales -- Amy Klobuchar was a prior subject, and she's very much on the moderate end of her party. Still, the Jayapal accounts do feel as if they're part of a trend of "progressive hero is actually a monster to her own workers" stories. What do we make of that trend? A few potential explanations:

  1. There is no underlying trend. Progressive bosses are no more likely to be abusive than any other boss; if they are the target of more media stories on the subject, it is solely because of the tantalizing hypocrisy angle and/or other reasons the media targets progressives.
  2. Something about progressive labor ideology lends itself to being a bad boss on a personal level (e.g., concentrating on formal labor rules and agreements encourages the implicit underselling of the importance of "soft" standards of interpersonal conduct).
  3. Progressive bosses are more likely to be women and/or of color, and so are held to higher standards of conduct because of misogyny or racism (this seemed to be Jayapal's official response, and Klobuchar has echoed it too).
  4. Progressive bosses are more likely to be under-resourced or over-demanded, and these additional burdens get passed along to staffers creating a disproportionately unbearable work environment.
  5. Progressive employees are more likely to be sensitive to bad treatment and have a lower tolerance for it, and so are more likely to deem (and report) a given set of working conditions as bad or abusive (whether this is because they are overly sensitive and unrealistic about "the real world" or because they haven't had their internal sense of human worth beaten out of them yet is an exercise for the reader).
Other explanations welcome.

1 comment:

David Lev said...

From what I remember of when Bernie Sanders' campaign staff unionized, a variation of 2 seems to happen occasionally where mistreated employees are portrayed by their bosses as "betraying the cause" by calling out mistreatment.