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Updated: 23 hours ago

Conditions for 1 in 4 Temp Workers Could be Improved

Temp workers are finally being heard, and lawmakers across the country are stepping up and recognizing that the “labor shortage” can be solved when workers are respected and provided with much needed protection.


Four states, California, Mississippi, New Jersey and Illinois, all recently introduced bills that will provide much needed regulation and transparency for workers in their respective states. The proposals cover nearly a quarter (23.3%) of all temp workers in the country, according to BLS data. While most elected officials have stayed silent on the issue of workers (particularly temporary workers) being exploited, leaders in these four states seem to understand the severity of these issues!


These new bills are attempting to regulate one of the most exploitative industries in the country, and this all thanks to courageous temp workers speaking out and demanding change. More than 1,300 spoke out in Temp Workers Demand Good Jobs, the recent report from TWJ, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) and local partners. Workers shared their experiences and uncovered shocking patterns of abuse and deception.


The trend brings along hope for millions of Americans who are working so-called “temp” jobs, and addresses a systemic issue that has plagued many communities for decades.


Why more states are introducing worker focused legislation?


This isn’t a new form of exploitation, and the temp staffing industry has proven it will not change unless workers force it to. For example: In 2012, Lawrence Daquan “Day” Davis was killed during his first day working a temp job after a lack of proper safety training. His sister Antonia is now a leading national voice for workers like Day, as a member of TWJ’s National Temp Worker Council. Day’s death was part of a string of temp worker deaths on the job that did little to convince the temp industry to change their ways.


And individual worksite companies don’t learn either. In 2016, Fannie Stanberry broke eight ribs and her left arm, as a result of dangerous working conditions at a FedEx warehouse that she worked at as a temp worker. But nothing changed. Nearly three years later, another temp worker, Duntate Young, was killed as a result of hazardous working conditions while working at the same FedEx warehouse!


These are not rare or isolated instances and it sends a message to all temp workers: we must make the industry change, and we must call on our leaders to take action.


Some of the new bills proposed for the 2022 legislative session will help to address these issues and bring along much needed protections for temp workers!


What’s been proposed in each state?


  • Mississippi: (SB 2184 Labor And Employment Protections For Temporary Workers In Mississippi) The Mississippi bill looks to be the first to regulate permatemping, preventing workers from remaining “temporary” beyond 90 days, and helping “temp” workers transition into stable jobs.

  • New Jersey: (SB 4223 Equal Pay for Equal Work) The New Jersey bill is headlined by equal pay for equal work, so that “temp” workers doing the same jobs are paid fairly. It also would require agencies to give detailed information about job assignments in writing to workers, so agencies are responsible for providing what is promised.

  • Illinois: (HB 5543 Temp Agency Seal of Approval) The “Seal of Approval” would help protect workers from retaliation, and create easier processes for them to address issues like wage theft, discrimination, and sexual harassment. The “Seal” regulates the agencies that receive state funding for work that is often provided in schools, hospitals, airports, and other large public institutions.

  • California: (SB 1162 Pay Transparency for Pay Equity Act) The California bill would close a loophole so that companies can’t get away with paying temp workers, who are disproportionately women and people of color, less for the same work. Information about demographics and pay for temp and permanent workers would be made public for any company that uses more than 100 temp workers in a year.


What it all means for workers in 2022:


There are a lot of things to take into consideration in terms of these bills, but we are optimistic that more states will introduce similar protections for temp workers, and that new laws will go into place so that temp workers can enforce their rights.


Temp workers are demanding more and rightfully so! Temp Worker Justice will continue to support temp workers as they demand a fair chance. A fair chance at not living in poverty and a fair chance at living!


Temp Workers: get connected to the movement in your state & get help! Take the temp work survey here.

  • Dave DeSario

WORKERS’ RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS URGE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD TO BROADEN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR TEST


Temp Worker Justice and other worker advocates filed Amicus Brief urging the NLRB to recognize the increasing fissuring of workplaces and adopt a broader test for determining whether a worker is an independent contractor, thus providing greater protections to workers, particularly workers of color.


Yesterday, February 10, 2022, twelve workers’ rights organizations from across the country filed an Amicus Brief in The Atlanta Opera, Inc v. Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Union, Local 798, IATSE, a case before National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) involving a union campaign by makeup artists and hairstylists for the Atlanta Opera. At its core, the case addresses whether the NLRB should reconsider its standard for determining the independent contractor status of workers.


The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects employees from retaliation for engaging in collective action to address workplace concerns. However, this protection does not apply to independent contractors and others that are not considered direct “employees.”


In their brief, Amici argue that the changing economic landscape and increased fissuring of traditional employer-employee relationships require a broader, multi-factor analysis for determining whether a worker is an independent contractor. Worker advocates assert that this broader analysis will be better suited to address the developing nature of misclassification and effectuate the purpose and policies of the NLRA. If the argument is accepted, millions more working people could have the opportunity to join unions and engage in collective bargaining, protected under the NLRA for employees.


Amici specifically lift up the impact of misclassification of temporary staffing workers and workers of color, who make up a disproportionate number of workers in low-wage and fissured workplaces.


As Dave DeSario, Director of Temp Worker Justice, explains: “Temp workers, independent contractors, and gig workers all have to ask, ‘Who’s the boss?’ They’re different names and legal sleights of hand for the same thing: systems that force mostly Black and Brown workers into doing equal work for unequal pay and second-class treatment. That’s why, along with allied organizations from across the country, we’re making the case to the NLRB to protect all workers who are excluded from the benefits and protections of regular employment.


For a copy of the Amicus Brief or other requests, please contact Legal Organizer at National Legal Advocacy Network, Lorraine Sands, at lsands@n-lan.org


For more information about the Organizations filing the Amicus Curiae, see below:

Ø Temp Worker Justice: https://www.tempworkerjustice.org/

Ø National Legal Advocacy Network: https://www.n-lan.org/

Ø National Black Worker Center: https://nationalblackworkercenters.org/

Ø PowerSwitch Action: https://www.forworkingfamilies.org/

Ø The Action Center for Race and the Economy: https://acrecampaigns.org/

Ø The Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights: https://www.msworkrights.org/

Ø Warehouse Workers for Justice: https://www.ww4j.org/

Ø Justice at Work: https://jatwork.org/

Ø Towards Justice: https://towardsjustice.org/

Ø TechEquity Collaborative: https://techequitycollaborative.org/

Ø Legal Services Staff Association (LSSA 2320): https://lssa2320.org/

Ø Workplace Justice Lab at Rutgers University: https://www.smlr.rutgers.edu/workplace-justice-lab-ru

Ø CUNY School of Law, Workers’ Rights Clinic: https://www.law.cuny.edu/academics/clinics/workers-rights-clinic/

  • Dave DeSario

Updated: 23 hours ago

Widespread industry abuses revealed by more than 1,300 “temp” workers who spoke out in Temp Worker Justice’s national survey

You did this, fellow temp workers! Over the last two years, temp workers from 47 states and through 5 workers’ centers shared their experiences in a first-of-its-kind large scale survey turned national report “Temp Workers Demand Good Jobs.”

“Temporary” workers have helped keep the country running throughout the pandemic. Their work for the largest corporations, in the most essential industries, has made it possible for others to safely stay at home. Yet, most people have little sense of what it’s like to work in the temp industry, with many believing the big lie of “temp to perm” - until now.


Key findings that workers brought to light in the new report:

  • Deception: 72% were misled about basic terms and conditions of their temp jobs, with falsehoods about conversion to permanent jobs the most common issue

  • Permatemping”: 35% reported that their current “temp” assignment had lasted over one year, and 18% had been at their current temp assignment over two years.

  • Wage Theft: 24% reported that, while working as a temp, their employers have stolen wages from them in at least one of three ways—paid less than the minimum wage, failed to pay the overtime rate, or failed to pay for all hours worked.

  • Workplace Injury: 17% reported experiencing a work-related injury or illness while employed through a staffing agency. Of those workers, 36% didn’t receive any medical care, and 41% had to pay for care on their own.

  • Employer Retaliation: when they spoke out, 71% said that they experienced retaliation for raising workplace issues with a supervisor or management.

  • Worker Power: 80% are interested in joining a worker organization like a union that works to improve conditions for temp workers.

New data on temp work helps to the story, but the experiences that workers themselves share are even more powerful.


“As a temp, they don’t care about your safety, or us as people,” said Antonia Bannister, a member of the National Temp Worker Council at Temp Worker Justice, whose brother was killed on the first day at work for temp agency Remedy Intelligent Staffing. “Everybody is expendable because the staffing agency can always get another person to work that position.


“Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, I’ve temped in warehouses with no safety protocols, no masks, no social distancing,” said temp worker Alfred White, who is a member of Warehouse Workers for Justice and the National Temp Worker Council at Temp Worker Justice. “But even before the pandemic I was put in unsafe situations—any time you put me in front of a machine that I’m not properly trained to operate, me and my coworkers are at risk. That happens too often. Most of us are scared to speak up because we’re afraid of retaliation and we’re barely scraping by, just trying to put food on the table. That’s why we need to organize and educate each other about our rights on the job and fight for better laws to protect us.”


Worker surveys and personal stories like these have already helped reach the highest levels, showing us that temp workers have the power to force change: even getting the attention of Congress.


“This eye-opening report helps to highlight the fact that, in America, temporary employees work just as hard as permanent workers, yet they receive smaller paychecks, less job stability/certainty, and fewer workplace protections,” said Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO). “To level the playing field for American workers and ensure that working class families receive their fair share of the pie from a growing economy—something Fortune 500 companies have clearly demonstrated they are unwilling to do—it is critical that Congress take action to protect temp workers now. That’s why I’m working diligently to reintroduce a strengthened Restoring Worker Power Act, which will guarantee temp workers receive equal pay for equal work.”


What can you do?

Temp Workers: Take TWJ’s new 2022 Temp Work Survey to get help, join the movement, and have your voice heard!


Temp-Workers-Demand-Good-Jobs-Report
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