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Worker and partially assembled car in a Nissan factory.
Temp workers face higher risk of injury and even death on the job than workers directly employed by the companies they work for, a December ProPublica report showed:
A ProPublica analysis of millions of workers’ compensation claims shows that in five states, representing more than a fifth of the U.S. population, temps face a significantly greater risk of getting injured on the job than permanent employees.

In California and Florida, two of the largest states, temps had about 50 percent greater risk of being injured on the job than non-temps. That risk was 36 percent higher in Massachusetts, 66 percent in Oregon and 72 percent in Minnesota.

Companies fail to provide basic training or safety equipment for temps, even when they're working around dangerous equipment; injured temps don't receive care or are fired. And, as Sarah Jaffe reports this week, temp doesn't really mean temporary anymore, even in what used to be considered good manufacturing jobs:
As an “associate” (the firm’s preferred term for temp), [Betty McCray] works alongside permanent Nissan employees, but she is treated differently. She says she is paid less, gets no personal days and has to bring a doctor’s note if she is sick. Her job feels precarious, like she could be let go at any time.

The path to becoming an “employee,” that elusive goal, is far from clear. Tracy Logan, 34, worked through Yates on Nissan’s assembly line for a year before winning a promotion to a position as a robot tender, overseeing the robots that spray paint on the car parts. To his surprise, he remained a temp. “When I first arrived at Nissan, that position was considered Class A—only Nissan personnel can hold that position,” he says. “I put in for it, thinking that would be a way of getting on with Nissan. Somewhere in there, they changed the classification of the job, but didn’t let us know.”

Manufacturers increasingly use temps even for skilled labor, and often pay low wages. Skilled manufacturing jobs done by temps at $10 an hour? That's what you call clear evidence of the race to the bottom.

Continue reading below the fold for more of the week's labor and education news.


  • Los Angeles teachers have a vision, and some of them are fighting to reshape their union around it.
  • The "turnaround" is one of the corporate education movement's favored approaches to schools that have been deemed failing on the basis of poor test scores. What's a turnaround? It's when at least half the teachers in a school are fired. Because as we know, teachers are the bane of the education system, amiright?

    Right now, the high school in New Bedford, Massachusetts, is in turnaround. You might think Massachusetts would be looking to follow the model of schools in the state that have dramatically improved test scores without firing their teachers, like Brockton High School and the Charlotte M. Murkland Elementary School. But instead, Brockton and Murkland are overlooked by state officials, who prefer to tout the wonders of firing people, so firing it is for the teachers of New Bedford:

    Shortly before Christmas, the superintendent of New Bedford Schools, Pia Durkin, announced that New Bedford High School would be put on a ‘turnaround’ plan. This plan gives all teachers a pink slip, requires that all teachers re-apply for their jobs, and has a fixed-in-advance rule that not more than 50% of current teachers will be rehired. [...]

    While corporate ‘reformers’ are demanding that we attend to the data of student test scores and ‘student growth percentiles,’ claiming their deep concern for children by threatening the people who have committed their lives to young people, there are whole swaths of data they ignore. These including, in the case of New Bedford, a 10.3 percent unemployment rate, 73 percent of students in New Bedford schools coming from low-income families, and 78 percent of the students in district labeled as high needs (compared to 47 percent statewide). While children enter school with unmet material needs and bearing the emotional and cognitive toll this exerts, teachers are under pressure to increase test scores. Not only are they supposed to focus on the test score, but they themselves are subject to the stress of working with severely reduced resources, including a $3 million reduction in school funding between 2011-2012 school year and the 2012-2013 school year.

    Chicago, by the way, has experienced a phenomenon similar to Massachusetts: Quite a few low-income neighborhood schools are outperforming turnaround schools even without the extra funding the turnaround schools get—yet city officials aren't publicizing those successes, let alone looking to them as models. Because the corporate reform priority is less on improvement than on consolidating power at the top and weakening teachers.
  • Horrifying:
    Imagine your 5-year-old boy went to a school where he was occasionally thrown in a padded cell and detained alone for stretches as long as 20 minutes.

    Or you sent your kid to an elementary school where the children are made to sit on a bare floor in the classroom for days before they can “earn” their desks.

    Or your kid went to a school where she spent hours parked in a cubicle in front of a computer with a poorly trained teacher who has to monitor more than 100 other students.

  • Shenanigans around fired school staff and canceled meetings at a Detroit charter school that unionized not long ago. Guess the board of Cesar Chavez Academy (yes, really) doesn't want to deal with little things like accountability.
  • Fifteen months in virtual charter hell: A teacher's tale.
  • The Atlanta test scandal is still being investigated and prosecuted. Yet there's been no such investigation into Washington, DC's test scandal.
  • Chicago school rations bathroom visits to "maximize student learning and reduce the loss of instructional time." I guess if students are going to spend weeks out of the year taking standardized tests, you have to make up the time somewhere?

A fair day's wage

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 10:55 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  10 bucks an hour? Luxury. (10+ / 0-)

    That's almost four hundred bucks a week!  (assuming of course full time hours)

    Somebody can afford rent on that if they don't drive, or eat!


    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 11:07:23 AM PST

  •  Tipped & rec'ed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, politicalceci

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 11:13:33 AM PST

  •  Temp employees are rarely paid (7+ / 0-)

    by the company they work for...but the agency that supplies the temps to the employer. The agency makes a profit and pays the temp a lot less.

    And one reason why temps get hurt more is that it is up to the agency to give them safety training...That saves the employer even more money....and the agencies give safety it a lick and a promise at best.

    "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." ~ Edward Abbey

    by SaraBeth on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 11:17:00 AM PST

  •  I live in a city (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, OooSillyMe

    that builds fancy "Day Labor Centers" for people who have time to hang out all day hoping to get picked up by someone willing to hire them for cash. They're nice centers. My tax dollars pay for them. And sometimes I think we as Americans have been so mind fucked by republicans and the wealth divide that we have been trained to ignore how insulting these places are. They represent so many things.

    -Tax evasion
    -Stolen bicycles
    -Undocumented workers
    -Wages driven down by illegals and tax evasion
    -Republicans who blame low wages on illegals then turn around and hire illegals and build these fancy centers for them

    I really do think it's over. America is in the middle part of the downward spiral. It's going to get much worse before it gets better if we can't stop the republican propaganda about money and jobs.

    Knock twice, rap with your cane

    by plok on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 11:17:09 AM PST

  •  I was once hired as a carpenter's apprentice, (8+ / 0-)

    which translated to cheap, unskilled labor. Using that designation for the job gave the contractor the ability to pay me less than the other laborers. I was handed saws on the first day that I knew nothing about - one that I could barely lift. Hilarious.

    Of course, that was a sort of a hazing and a test to see if the girl could pull her weight. Even when I was keeping up, I wasn't treated well by the other workers. They were happy to hand me the broom at the end of the day and go off for a smoke while I cleaned up.

    And then periodically one of the guys would come up on me suddenly to "help" and grab a balanced load from my arms, nearly tipping me over. Safety wasn't a big consideration, either was teaching the apprentice anything about anything. There was no system in place for moving up as I increased my skills anyway.

  •  At my job (4+ / 0-)

    processing medicaid/medicare claims for payment fulltime workers get benefits etc, however we've been cut down to like 5 of those, all replaced with temps who make at least4-6 dollars an hour less than the full time people and they are doing the same work, and often more of the more complicated work as well.  No vacation, sick time etc except that provided through the agency the work for, but often temps are just replaced if they miss a day. An air of superiority is developed by the full time staff over them and they are often delegated less desirable tasks and hours. Pretty much a shitty position to be in.

    "These are established professionals that have a liberal bent, but ultimately most of them if pushed will choose professional preservation over cause, such is the mentality of most business professionals" -BoA/HBGary/CoC

    by LieparDestin on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 11:19:58 AM PST

    •  I hate temps. Not the people filling (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      spacecadet1, OzarkOrc

      those positions.  Just the fact that they're filling a position that SHOULD be filled by a full time or, at the very lease, part-time worker - and that THEY, the "temp," should be the one filling it.  Frosts my balls to see a temp working in my p.o.b.  Another Temp?!  Are you F*ing kidding me?!  Let me guess... minimum wage?  Thought so.  But "they" (One Percent futhermuckers) point fingers at us "Moochers and Slackers" and tell us to Get. A. Job.  All of this happening before our very eyes and all I get is the 1,000 yard stare from my 20-something and 30-something co-workers.  Whadayamean, winkk??  Why your balls all frosted?   We're working...  [rolls eyes]

      •  Temporary needs to have a legal time limit (4+ / 0-)

        If a position lasts for a certain length of time, say 3-6 months or so (to account for maternity or major illness leave), it should by law be considered permanent...and companies should not be allowed to rotate temp workers in and out to get around the time limit of the position itself.

        Nothing wrong with true temp work. I did that many years ago in college, during summers. A lot of companies had need of someone to come in for a few days or a week to catch up on filing or fill in during an employee's vacation. But I never had a temp job that lasted more than 2 weeks.

        •  Yes, there still is a need for real (0+ / 0-)

          temp work and temp workers.  It worked great for some 80, 90 years.   But since the turn of this century the Ubers and Filthys (One Percenters) have turned those "temp jobs" into Full Time jobs paying temp job wages.  The "new reality" they call it.

  •  IA anti-tax group attacks public employee pensions (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Egalitare, AJayne

    Iowans for Tax Relief is calling for "reform" of public employee pensions.

    The organization calls pension reform one of it top priorities for the 2014 session of the Iowa Legislature, which convenes Monday.
    ALEC strikes again.
  •  Who wants to bet that the teachers not (4+ / 0-)

    rehired are older and higher on the pay scale?  

  •  Safety equipment (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    swampyankee, spacecadet1, OzarkOrc

    The man in the photo appears to be wearing regular sneakers, not steel-toed safety shoes. In a heavy manufacturing plant, that ought to be unacceptable.

    I spent some time working in the IT division of an auto assembly plant. On the occasions when I ventured into the plant itself, I was required to wear approved steel-toed shoes, and a helmet. And though it was not comfortable apparel, I'm glad for the requirement.

    There's no such thing as a Free Information Kit. There is, however, advertising.

    by lotac on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 11:38:01 AM PST

  •  Republican policy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AJayne, OzarkOrc

    at work. How do we get normal people to see it? Where I live, republicans have been taking them to the cleaners for years, but they keep voting for them. I get so damn frustrated.

    If you are not the lead dog, the view never changes.

    by RepresentUsPlease on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 11:51:05 AM PST

  •  temporary workers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Egalitare, winkk

    MB did a Night Owls diary last month on the Propublica article on temp safety.

  •  How employmet law has contributed to the downward (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    spacecadet1, OzarkOrc

    The reality is that as conservative administrations both state and federal have packed the courts with right wing ideologue judges, those judges have pretty much dismantled the labor and employment laws that created a level playing field for employees.  Most of the concerns and issues in this article did not exist 20 years ago - why, because the employer would likely end up in court.  

    Overtime laws have changed because of the legislatures but the courts have proceeded to weaken them to the point that even an obvious case is difficult.  To put it simply every one is now a manager or supervisor and exempt from overtime, even if they are just cleaning toilets.  

    The use of temporary employees exacerbates this situation dramatically as it allows employers to avoid any direct responsibility for their workers as they are not their employers but the employees of a contracting firm - how convenient.  At one time contractors who were employed full time by a company would take on employee attributes and the employer would be forced to treat them like employees (it used to be if a contractor worked for an employer for more than 6 months they were considered an employee under the law - court decisions and changes in the law now make it easy to avoid this situation by lowering their hours and getting the contracting firm to change its name every so often) - today it is virtually impossible to prove a contractor is really an employee.  Thus their rights to benefits, equitable compensation, overtime, etc. are extinguished.  

    Employment attorneys were warning of this in the 90s. I can remember article after article about the downward spiral of employment law as conservative judges eliminated sections of both state and federal law in favor of employers - the return to the Lochner era by the federalists.  Today it is not even discussed - the attorneys who raised the flags have either retired or changed their area of specialization because it has become impossible to hold an employer liable for anything - even when a manager rapes his employee in his office, or requires staff members to provide sexual favors to keep their jobs - these are actual cases, look them up, you will not believe what has been done to the laws you probably think still protect you in the work place.    

    But instead of discussing the reality of today's employment environment, we get nonsense about how their are "makers and takers" and even more nonsense about how unemployment insurance makes people lazy.  But nothing about the downward spiral of worker rights that is leading to the dismantling of the middle class and the inevitable spiral into poverty.  

  •  I figure nothing happens as long as a certain (0+ / 0-)

    percentage are taken care of. Some day it will reach a tipping point, probably after I'm done working.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 12:31:35 PM PST

  •  Witness. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizaveta, OzarkOrc

    I worked an entire 12 months at a temp job. "Temp" my ass. The other lady who did my job on a different shift had been a temp for 3 years. I said "hell no" to that and asked to be placed somewhere else. That new place screwed me over as a temp and the agency left me stranded with no job whatsoever.

    But those bastards (the temp agency) were forced to pay me unemployment which was almost unheard of for that company.

    "It's not enough to acknowledge privilege. You have to resist." -soothsayer

    by GenXangster on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 12:55:40 PM PST

  •  Temps are the new cannon fodder. Totally (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

    by judyms9 on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 01:58:52 PM PST

  •  The New Race To The Bottom (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The fact such crap is growing in our factories is bad enough. The fact the state and local governments are party to this makes it worse. Sadly, the sheep/voters in these districts actually buy into the premise this is creating jobs when in fact the jobs would still be there, but for the complicity of the electorate, would be living wages for permanent employees.

    As to the whole charter school issue. I had a conversation with a teacher who was hired at a charter school (former public school) here in Las Vegas. She related how the principal of the charter school took all the teachers at the beginning of the year to a room filled with a teachers dream of school supplies. There was everything a teacher dreamed of, but had to pay out of their own pocket. Paper, pens, pencils, glue, paint, etc.

    The principal let them have a good look at the room, then closed and locked the door while announcing to the assembled teachers that her end of year bonus was based upon how much was left over in the room, so don't expect the door to be unlocked again.

    The story of Privatization. Shiny brochures, shitty service.

  •  It's more complex than that... (0+ / 0-)

    Not defending the bad agencies and employers that don't properly train, supervise or provide reasonable work expectancies for temps, but in my experience, there is another big reason for the higher temp injury rates...  

    Consider a company that has a number of "moderately physical" manual material handling jobs, lifting and moving cartons. Not light assembly work, but not shoveling coal for 10 hours.  

    The permanent employees have been doing the job for years and are in good physical condition.  Not all temps are.  They may have been out of work and inactive for months.  Yes, they can be started at a lower production rate, but some folks, desperate for work, may overestimate their physical ability (or work beyond their capacity in order to impress the boss) and get a sprain or strain while "hardening" in the first few days or weeks on the job.  Some may never be physically capable.  Yes, pre-placement physicals are an option, but when companies like Amazon bring on tens of thousands of temps, are they going to spring a couple hundred bucks per to weed out the 10-15% (or more)  that are a risk?

  •  do the corps (0+ / 0-)

    realize the damage they are doing not only to the economy & workers but also too themselves, not likely.

  •  Considering the comments in this post (0+ / 0-)

    it is time to break out the made in America pitchforks and march on Wall street.

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