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As a society we don't talk NEARLY enough about the way a toxic job environment can mess with your head 24/7 just like an abusive relationship can.

Kids absolutely NEED to hear warnings about this before they're old enough to work, and adults need frequent reminders.
The values our society applies to work were formed around the expectation of a two-way loyalty bond between employer and employee - that if you gave years of your life to a company, you could expect a good standard of living through life and retirement.

This is a fake lie.
It used to be a SOMEWHAT romanticized myth - reality wasn't always that ideal, but still many of these kinds of secure jobs were available.

So boomers often don't comprehend that later generations have been conditioned to accept abuse and disposability from the start.
Refusing to cooperate is *hard*.

The first things we MUST all do: acknowledge the harms done to us, acknowledge our worth, and refuse to make excuses for the people abusing us.

Then keep doing those things. Out loud and in front of others.
Some of us have to figure out how to work for ourselves; in many fields, non-abusive employers are unicorns.

Some of us need to engage in collective bargaining.

But that's a non-starter unless others are ALSO aware of their worth and their mistreatment.

So: keep saying it.
De-gaslighting yourself and others is the first and most constant necessity.

From what I have observed in workplaces, the success or failure of applying upward pressure isn't necessarily predicated on whether it happens through an official union.
Yes, unions have legal protections and that's important. But...

Everyone is ultimately just people in a room.

If the person ostensibly "running the place" is aware it won't function without everyone else there... and aware that these people are ALSO aware...

That can go far.
If most of the people in the room are constantly mutually gaslighted into devaluing themselves, and for each person that's reinforced by everyone else in the room...

No amount of union contract will help people who feel too defeated to USE it.

Keep reminding each other.
This poetry from @Plaguing_Possum (cw: body horror, violence to animals & children) strikes a chord with me about how abusive systems ultimately devour themselves too. Solidarity to her, and to everyone else going through it -

Pulling this out of the comments, because I don't think I can overstate the importance of screening and filtering your employers for red flags.

Be choosy. If you can't be choosy, then have an exit plan, WRITE IT DOWN and update it regularly.

Write down the red flags and deal-breakers you can think of, and what actions they trigger.

Add to the list when you think of new ones.

It takes some executive function overhead to plan an exit, and abuse can deplete this, so don't be afraid to ask your friends for help.
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