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Worker and partially assembled car in a Nissan factory.
Even some auto manufacturers are increasingly relying on temp—or perma-temp—workers.
Temp work is a growing part of the economy, a way companies are cutting labor costs and evading labor laws, causing massive harm to workers in the process. Now, a few states are acting to rein in the worst abuses of the temporary staffing industry. In California, state Assembly committees are considering:
... a bill to make both the labor contractor and its client company, say a hotel owner or a retail goods distribution warehouse, jointly liable for payment of wages, accurate reporting of hours worked, wages, benefits, tax deductions and insurance coverage for victims of on-the-job injuries.

The bill's author, Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina), said he's concerned about a "race-to-the-bottom mentality that has infiltrated many industries, seeking ways to cut costs, coming many times on the backs of the workers."

Currently, many large companies contract with a staffing agency to do the dirty work of wage and hour violations, then claim that problems are the staffing agency's fault—even when the company is clearly responsible for working conditions and for hiring staffing agencies that are routine abusers. Temp workers face higher risk of injury and death on the job, and increasingly, they aren't really temporary workers. "Temp" is used as a fiction to keep wages and benefits low and workers scared.

With the temporary staffing industry having grown 41 percent from 2008 to 2012, there's a strong need to curb its worst abuses and make it clear to companies that hiring through a staffing agency doesn't absolve them of responsibility for ensuring that workers are paid according to minimum wage and overtime laws and that their health and safety aren't put at risk.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed May 07, 2014 at 08:29 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Temporary Help Industry/Employee Leasing (0+ / 0-)

    This Industry simply should be shut down by the Labor Dept.  It's illegal own another human being (a/k/a slavery) and that means it's also illegal to lease/rent one.

    •  Then employment itself should be illegal (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib

      Good luck with that.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Wed May 07, 2014 at 07:47:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Glad to see you coming around. (0+ / 0-)

        Yes, the construct of employment is archaic. Worker owned cooperatives are most likely the future. We are moving toward a world in which most things will be massively free or cheap anyway. I don't see how capitalism survives unless it is kept in place by force.

    •  Temp agencies don't own anyone (0+ / 0-)

      People can quit a temp agency at any time, without notice.

      "let's talk about that" uid 92953

      by VClib on Wed May 07, 2014 at 08:06:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's incredibly ignorant. (0+ / 0-)

        There is a significant body of case law that recognizes the inequality of the parties in the employer/employee relationship.  Employers have power over employees, temp, perm, seasonal, and (sometimes) even contractors that the courts have recognized to varying degrees.  

        Just because you say employment is "at will" and either party can end the relationship at any time doesn't make them equal parties.  

        (That sound you are hearing is a paradigm being shifted at Warp Factor Infinity using no clutch.)

        by homogenius on Wed May 07, 2014 at 10:51:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The law never requires the parties to be equal (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nextstep

          There is no legal requirement that employers and employees have equal power or leverage in the employer/employee relationship. That equality has never been an employment law standard. The comment was comparing being a temp to being a slave. There are numerous reasons why they are not the same, but the primary one is personal freedom. Slaves can't just leave, while people who work for temp agencies are always able to leave at any time.

          "let's talk about that" uid 92953

          by VClib on Thu May 08, 2014 at 06:17:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  the company my mr. works for (4+ / 0-)

    uses "temp"help in its warehouses.  some of the "temp" workers have been there 15 -20 years with no benefits.  they frequently do a very poor job but i don't blame them.  they have no incentive to do better since they will not be rewarded for it in any way.  
    i have another friend, a trained and experienced accountant who now is working "temp" at 1/3 the wage she used to make.  the company wants to keep her over a longer period of time than the temp agency allows, but the temp agency is now offering to hire her as their employee and give her some benefits while they lease her out to the company.  what a clusterf*ck this is.  why can't the company just give her the damn job!  
    i can't express my joy at being old and retired.  if my financial guy turns out to be bernie madoff, i will just jump off the vincent thomas bridge because i would never make it in corporate america today.

    "I am an old woman, named after my mother. my old man is another child who's grown old." John Prine (not an old woman)

    by art ah zen on Wed May 07, 2014 at 09:16:53 AM PDT

    •  What your friend is going through (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      art ah zen, Pale Jenova

      should be illegal (and, if I'm not mistaken, is grounds for a lawsuit based on the terms she & her temp agency signed, as well as the contract the temp agency negotiated with the other company).  The whole point of signing up with a temp agency is to have that agency be a conduit into full-fledged, full-time work (or at least permanent work).

      (This does depend on the stipulations of the contract she signed.  Most temp agencies have a firm three-month window upon which time the contracting company must terminate services or agree to take on the worker as a regular employee.)

      •  Those terms are broken all the time. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dirtandiron

        Hell, there's a lessee at Disneyland (Arribas Bros,, which runs the Crystal Shops) that has its own in-house temp agency that pays all its employees.  Some have been there many years longer than what is legally considered a temp.  If challenged, they would just form another shell/sham temp agency.

        And Disney looks the other way.

        Of course, Disney is little better than Wal-Mart on wages and working conditions.  

        (That sound you are hearing is a paradigm being shifted at Warp Factor Infinity using no clutch.)

        by homogenius on Wed May 07, 2014 at 10:56:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Isn't Disneyland in Anaheim a union shop? (0+ / 0-)

          It was when I lived in SoCal.

          "let's talk about that" uid 92953

          by VClib on Thu May 08, 2014 at 06:33:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Toothless unions. (0+ / 0-)

            They went to two-tier wages back in the '80s.

            And the lessees are exempt.  Sodexo runs the employee cafeterias. Janitorial in the office buildings and athletic trainers for entertainers are contracted out.  So is a lot of IT.

            Even in union jobs punitive disciplinary action is rampant, but there is no up-side--no merit raises, no benefits for doing a good job (other than token kudos and candy). But there's a lot of working poor--hundreds, if not thousands on foodstamps and Medicaid.  Even some college students are working two jobs (Disneyland used to be a primo college employer).

            Walmart needs funny, cuddly characters.  

            (That sound you are hearing is a paradigm being shifted at Warp Factor Infinity using no clutch.)

            by homogenius on Tue May 13, 2014 at 07:17:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Well, if the temp agency is "in-house", (0+ / 0-)

          then that's a conflict of interest.

          At any rate, it goes back to what the contract said.  I've worked through a temp agency that kept me on in the same office for more than a year.  The position was offered as "long-term temp", so that's essentially what I agreed to.  Another agency was able to transition me into a permanent position after the three months we agreed to were up.

    •  My wife is a "temp" research scientist at a (0+ / 0-)

      pharma co....with nearly 2 decades exp in cancer research. And we are doing the same to the public schools. Higher ed is already lost. A world of adjuncts and part timers and temps. All to support the rich so they can hoard wealth and pay no taxes on it.

  •  they rarely mention (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bearsguy

    that companies getting workers from agencies pay the agencies 25 to 30 percent extra for their work. That's the agencies' income, and you can see why they stay in business. It's to their advantage to keep people on their own books, instead of letting them be hired permanently.

    (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

    by PJEvans on Wed May 07, 2014 at 10:32:38 AM PDT

    •  A Scam they are!! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pale Jenova

      Where I live there are over a Dozen of these Temp Agencies!! Full Time after 90, That's the Hook line. The Majority of Large Companies in my area Require going through one of them. My nephew had to go through one, In a nutshell, Was laid off at Day 89, Impeccable work ethic, Attendance etc. 2 weeks later was called back to the Same Company, The Cycle started all over again. I actually signed up with 2 different Agencies (no Intent of actually working) I'm a Constr. Worker, Just to see what People experience. Went through the Process, Turned out I was Never offered any type of Job that would last any more than 3-5 Days!! How does one survive like that? I agree 110%, Outlaw them!!

      •  What possible basis could be used to outlaw (0+ / 0-)

        temp agencies? If specific agencies are violating the law, throw the book at them. But the underlying business plays an important role in our economy.

        "let's talk about that" uid 92953

        by VClib on Wed May 07, 2014 at 08:11:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Because so-called "temp" agencies are nothing but. (0+ / 0-)

          They have become a massive outsourcing industry to avoid hiring permanent workers with benefits.  

          Your question is stupid.  The equivalent question is: "what possible basis could be used to stop corporate welfare?"

          (That sound you are hearing is a paradigm being shifted at Warp Factor Infinity using no clutch.)

          by homogenius on Wed May 07, 2014 at 11:00:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No, it's not (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nextstep

            Temp agencies have been around for 50 years. It's a legitimate business. What possible legal basis could be used to outlaw them? The fact that they provide long term employees for other companies isn't a legal basis for putting them out of business.

            "let's talk about that" uid 92953

            by VClib on Thu May 08, 2014 at 06:12:03 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The courts have always held that if something (0+ / 0-)

              has a compelling public interest, it can be done. That's why most states don't allow alcohol consumption until 21. I mean, one is at the age of majority at 18, right? But can't get a drink at a bar....it would be perfectly fine to simply outlaw temp work beyond 5-10 days. If you need help for more than that, hire it.

              •  Why go through the expense of hiring an employee (0+ / 0-)

                for 30 days or even 90 days?

                "let's talk about that" uid 92953

                by VClib on Thu May 08, 2014 at 08:33:15 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Why not? If you need help you hire help. (0+ / 0-)

                  Maybe we could exempt seasonal work like Christmas retail or winter oil deliveries, things we know don't last. Some of these employers know damn well they will continue to need help; hiring new temps every few months is bogus.

                •  You're missing the point. (0+ / 0-)

                  Temp agencies are being used to avoid the costs of FTEs.

                  This is widely known and well-documented.  There are artificial incentives to allow companies to do this, just as there are for off-shoring American jobs.

                  The 18-month limit on temps is violated all the time.  

                  (That sound you are hearing is a paradigm being shifted at Warp Factor Infinity using no clutch.)

                  by homogenius on Tue May 13, 2014 at 07:20:44 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Why is this law necessary? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib, nextstep

    If temp agencies are violating the law, prosecute them. Why doesn't California just pony up the money to add adequate resources to wage and hour violation investigations? Better yet, eliminate some useless anti-drug/prostitution resources and repurpose them to these matters.

    I'm not sure I see that adding lots of new hoops for honest businesses to jump through is going to help much.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Wed May 07, 2014 at 07:46:42 PM PDT

    •  Prosecuting them and dealing with their (0+ / 0-)

      lawyers would take time and money that the state can't afford to spend. Plus the whole messy business of "proving" they are violating the law.

      And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

      by Pale Jenova on Thu May 08, 2014 at 06:56:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There are many companies (0+ / 0-)

    that fit the variable "a company" in the article above. However,  I note that one company which has been at least accused if not found guilty of all violations mentioned above is Walmart."

    Having grown up in SoCal and having been a contractor for a majority of my career, I am VERY in favor of this legislation based on what I have read here.

    Best of Luck to CA on passing this.

  •  To be "IBM'd" (0+ / 0-)

    As far back as 1994, it meant "to be fired from your job and immediately hired back through a temp agency to do the same work."

    Also, in my department, our supervisor must have been a financial "genius": we temps got paid $7.00 per hour (which meant IBM paid about $10.50 to the agency), but when we did work for other departments, he billed us out at $100 per hour (gotta account for the potted plants and extra carpeting, after all). But still, somehow, our department lost money.

    And this was before Enron made this sort of accounting a work of art.

    IBM wondered why some of its employees were running lists of customers out of its database and selling them to competitors?

    I never did that--after all, how would I know whom to use as a fence?--but I did crack a lot of jokes about us low wage peons still having to dress up in monkey suits and play pretend power lunch. Also, the irony--bums screaming at me because I wore a suit and tie and didn't hand over my money. LOL.

    And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

    by Pale Jenova on Thu May 08, 2014 at 06:52:23 AM PDT

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