The Workers’ Rights Conversation Goes Online – and Hits the Mainstream

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The Workers’ Rights Conversation Goes Online – and Hits the Mainstream

By: Ashley A. Smith, Esq. and Ty Hyderally, Esq.

This time last year, one oddball news item stood out from the doom and gloom. It all started on r/wallstreetbets, a forum of popular social media website, Reddit. News buffs were either befuddled or amused by the antics of the forum’s amateur stock traders as they bought up stock from GameStop and other companies, punishing short-sellers and sending a message to Wall Street.

In 2022, a new subreddit is making headline news – and it’s quite relevant to our interests.

Meet r/antiwork.

Excuse me, what?

Now, we know what you may be thinking. The U.S., after all, was founded by people who ascribed to the Puritan work ethic. Today, work isn’t just how we pay our bills; often, it’s part of our identity. When you meet someone new, one of the first things you probably ask is, “what do you do?” – which we all understand that really means “what do you do for work?” We value hard work and take pride in a job well done.

So, then, how could any reasonable person be “anti-work?”

Well, the goal of r/antiwork isn’t to abolish all work entirely and veg out on a beach somewhere.

sea lions
These sea lions do make it look nice, though.

As explained in its FAQ section, the denizens of r/antiwork are “not against effort, labor, or being productive.” Rather, the “work” that they seek to end is the institution that “puts the needs and desires of managers and corporations above and beyond workers, often to the point of abuse through being overworked and underpaid.”

Over the past several months, the discussion board has become a hub for working people of all stripes to share stories, commiserate, offer moral support, and discuss what needs to change in the working world. Some of the most popular posts include real (or purportedly real) resignation letters and text messages.

Reddit users are largely anonymous, identified only by their chosen usernames, and can easily form and join groups based on common interests. These qualities make Reddit a place where discussion on virtually every topic thrives.


The discussions on r/antiwork are lively. It feels as though many of its contributors have been waiting to have these conversations for a long time, but until now never found a place to have them, much less the right words to express thoughts and feelings about work that, perhaps until now, they didn’t know anyone else had.

Tellingly, r/antiwork’s membership has rocketed from 180,000 in October 2020 to nearly 1.6 million in January 2022.

As we recently discussed, only about 1 in 10 American workers is a union member. The power of a union cannot be accessed by a couple clicks on a website. However, members of r/antiwork are finding something else that once was mainly found through unions – solidarity.


r/antiwork and other social media forums like it can be great resources for discussion of what happens (and what shouldn’t happen) at work, what workers think about it, and what workers have done about it. The fact that these discussions are taking place – and being read by millions – is a positive for American workers.

En nuestra firma hablamos español. This blog is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice, and may not reasonably be relied upon as such. If you face a legal issue, you should consult a qualified attorney for independent legal advice with regard to your particular set of facts. This blog may constitute attorney advertising. This blog is not intended to communicate with anyone in a state or other jurisdiction where such a blog may fail to comply with all laws and ethical rules of that state of jurisdiction.

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