With 600 offices and a workforce of 400,000—more employees than Target or Home Depot—Labor Ready is the undisputed king of the blue-collar temp industry. Specializing in "tough-to-fill, high-turnover positions," the company dispatches people to dig ditches, demolish buildings, remove debris, stock giant fulfillment warehouses—jobs that take their toll on a body. And business is booming. Labor Ready's parent company, TrueBlue, saw its profits soar 55 percent last year, to $31 million, on $1.3 billion in sales. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that "employment services," which includes temporary labor, will remain among the fastest growing sectors through 2020.Gabriel Thompson reports on his stint working for the giant temp chain at Mother Jones:
Back at the Labor Ready office, I have to wait nearly 30 minutes to receive my check. The job paid $8 an hour—minimum wage. For five hours of labor, I get $37.34 after taxes. I am not paid, however, for the four hours on call, or the time spent in transit to and from the job site, or waiting to get paid. None of this meets the legal definition of wage theft, but it sure feels like it.A fair day's wage
- Janitors in Houston's biggest buildings are often part-time workers making less than $9,000 a year. Believe it or not, that's an improvement they fought for and got after joining the SEIU in 2005. Now, they're on strike after the contractors they work for have refused to negotiate and unilaterally imposed changes to their expired contract. Janitors in New York, California, and Illinois could go out on strike in solidarity with the Houston strikers.
- San Francisco court workers went on strike Monday, objecting to pay cuts and heavier work loads while, they say, administrators have millions in slush funds.
- Workers who were suspended by the Tropicana casino in Atlantic City after engaging in civil disobedience on their own time are back at work.
- Aww, poor Penny Pritzker. It's tough out there for a hotel heiress.
- Are lunch breaks the new vision of utopia?
State and local legislation
- The Indianapolis city council passed a "freedom to work" measure barring hotels from blacklisting workers who are work for contractors supplying the hotels with low-wage temporary labor. Workers say they've been told by hotels that they aren't eligible for better-paying, permanent jobs due to an agreement the hotels have made with contractors.