What Does That Mean?
It is never difficult to spot a business owner working in their own establishment. They're casual and flexible, with the power of authority as one arm rest, and the ownership of the business as the other. They'll be sweeping floors, or helping customers, or stacking merchandise. But they'll be doing it with a cigarette, at an easy leisurely pace. Sometimes they'll stop, and have a fifteen minute conversation with a customer. Sometimes they'll just throw their tools on the ground, realizing their power, and order their staff to clean up whatever mess they made.
In short: your boss, when "working," will do everything that you are not allowed to do. You can always identify who the boss is when you enter a business: it's the person who's moving the slowest, the one who's causing problems for the functioning of the industry, and the one that just gets in the way.
You can be working in a manufacturing plant that produces microscopic, computer chips, or you could be working at a McDonald's: all bosses, no matter how smart the workers are, treat their job like a hobby. They pick it up, put it down, as if it didn't matter. Their small business may just as well be a World War 1, model airplane, or a ship in a bottle.
If the boss is the slowest, then the worker is the fastest. The boss destroys, the laborer creates -- the one behaves like a child arguing over the size of their ice cream, while the other behaves like an adult human in fulfilling their responsibility. One of them is a bitter, cursing, hateful fool; the other is a humble and forgiving genius. All employers, bosses, investors, CEOs, managers, supervisors generally fall into this category: everyday we are assured of their worthlessness, because they don't have the heart, the courage, or the mind to do what we workers are capable of doing. "The workers thus live under an awful tyranny. They are ruled without their consent. The government which oppresses them is the government of the shops, the mines and the railroads. This government declares when they shall work and when they shall be idle. All of the profits taken by the capitalist class are in reality taxes paid by the workers. These taxes are not voted by the workers. They are seized by the employers. The idea that we have freedom in America is ridiculous. What the capitalists call "freedom," is nothing but freedom to enslave the working class. This they can now do without let or hindrance." --Big Bill Haywood, with Frank Bohn, 1911 "Industrial Socialism," Part 3
The boss will leave early if they have a headache, or a broken nail, or just because they want to watch children's cartoons. The business, to them, is a joke, so we know exactly why they labor with such weakness and apathy. Their income is secured: you'll make their income. They may even own stocks on many other businesses, but all of the dividends they cash are paid for by our labors.
But look at you -- you're employed! You work and suffer; you can't just throw down your mop, or pen and paper, or computer, and go home, to collect the same exact paycheck. No! You have to pay for rent, food, and bills. Maybe you have a family, or maybe you have a social life, or maybe you have a lover; but, life for you, as a worker, begins where work ends. And if you can't get that paycheck, then you can't have that life. Everything you need depends upon that slavish labor you're put to.
Imagine if you, as the worker, had the same advantages as the boss! Imagine if you could throw out a rude and violent customer, whereas your boss will ask you get bruises in exchange for your paycheck. Imagine if your work was determined by you, and not some exploiter: you could work when you want, as hard as you want, and you would receive wealth according to your labors. No longer would your boss demand you to stay after hours, or to work for a lower rate, "under the table." None of that nonsense!
You're the worker -- everything in society has been built by us! We can dig mines to the center of the earth, and build towers that reach into space; managing and organizing industries for ourselves will be easy! We will still be laborers, creating society's wealth, but we will then be responsible to ourselves. Being responsible for feeding the earth will temper our sense of social justice; and being the masters of the industries will let us stand up straight -- we will finally be able to exercise those muscles, our intuition and our ambition, that have weakened and decayed under the domination of an employer. And putting the worker in charge of the workplace starts with forming a union.