TWJ Blog

  • Gina DePelsMaeker

I was a "temp" for 8 years. Here's what you should know about temp agencies.

It is time to call out temp work for what it really is. The temp assignment I accepted became eight years of temp work between two long term assignments at Dow Inc. Kelly IT Services led me to believe this assignment would lead to a permanent hire—it did not. A hostile environment forced me to end the second assignment which was at a pay rate less than the starting rate of first. For eight years, I worked for a Fortune 500 temp agency—they assigned me to a Fortune 100 corporation. My assignment “resold” my technical services as tenant support to large international corporations. I had no health insurance benefits. My 401K has the lasting impact of receiving no match over all that time. There are a thousand times more stories like mine than successful ones. Anyone I have met working a temp assignment had the hope of a permanent hire. My hopes are now wishes to fix regrets.

I wish I had known how slim the odds were of being hired to Dow through Kelly IT Services. I learned too late that permanent Dow positions were being replaced with permatemps and over half of Dow’s workforce did not even work for them.

I wish I had known the path of temp work was far from that of a career. My temp job was absent of any mentorship or coworkers willing to network. Instead, exclusion existed, and the environment encouraged it. I did the same type of work under eight managers over eight years. No one was trying me out to give me a shot…only making my life trying. Temp agencies should be forbidden from career fairs.

I wish I had known temp workers were “the switch” on my assignment. In the month of December, if budgets were not met, managers could pull “the switch” furloughing temp workers. This way, permanent employee team members received their annual bonuses, and no lay-off report was required to shareholders. Decembers were full of anxiety for me—I feel ashamed my family went through that for so long. Would the shareholders be ashamed—did they already know? I wish I had known I was signing up to be held accountable for missed budgets.

I wish I had understood that a 12 month non-compete clause existed in my pre-employment paperwork. What would be the purpose of this other than to trick me? My education and my skills are only proprietary to me…the fruits of my own labor. How could it have been legal to block me from opportunity and lock me into working for the prosperity of others?

It is time to call out temp work for what it really is and all the behaviors that have bred under this guise. This is the socially responsible thing to do. I wish I had known how damaging a temp job would ultimately be.

About the Author

Gina DePelsMaeker is a member of the National Temp Worker Council, supported by Temp Worker Justice, and is from Michigan. She's motivated by her experience as a temp worker to help others, and has been speaking out publicly about how temp agencies prevent career advancement for temp workers. Her story was featured a recent publication by Temp Worker Justice and the National Employment Law Project, Temps in Tech.

Contact us if you're interested in sharing your experience as a temporary worker - we can answer your questions and help with writing or editing.

Sophia is an essential worker who has been working at a Dollar Tree distribution center in Morengo, Ohio. Talking to her coworkers, she learned that the Dollar Tree distribution center pays its permanent employees $19.50 an hour! Amazing, right? For some, yes. For others, not so much.

Sophia was actually hired by Acloché, a temporary staffing agency, and only makes $15/hour. Although Sophia does the same work as permanent employees at the Dollar Tree distribution center, she makes $4.50/hour less than her permanent colleagues - that’s almost $200 less per week!

To make the unequal treatments even worse, Sophia recently learned that Dollar Tree gave Acloché a raise of $3/hr for staffing warehouse workers. Acloché is now hiring new temp workers for the Dollar Tree distribution at $18/hour - $3 more per hour than she makes! Current temp employees like Sophia were not given raises, and she’s been told by Acloché that they have no intention of matching her pay to that of new hires.

This is something that staffing agencies such as Acloché have done for decades. They hide information in regards to the markup that they charge their clients (making it almost impossible for temp workers to find out how much the temp agencies are making off of their labor). Very rarely do they provide raises even when their clients, such as Dollar Tree, have provided additional funding to them.

Why should Sophia be paid less than permanent employees and new temp workers when he does the same job?

When situations like Sophia’s arise, it shows that there is not a “labor shortage.” In fact, individuals are willing to work, but they want to be fairly compensated.

There are millions of workers like Sophia that are risking their lives in the middle of a global pandemic and a possible upcoming economic depression, yet they are being under-compensated and overlooked.

It’s time we respond and do something to end this injustice. Temp workers should be given equal pay for the equal work they provide, and staffing agencies should be transparent about their markup rates.

Do you have an experience with unequal or unjust treatment as a temporary worker? Contact us - we want to help make it right!

Disclaimer: Individuals’ names may have been changed to protect their identities.

  • Dave DeSario

What’s it like working for those ‘cool’ tech companies with the free cafeterias and ping pong tables?

Not so great, if you’re one of the thousands of temp and subcontracted employees working alongside the permanent ones. For temps in tech, it’s a very different experience.

New research by Temp Worker Justice and the National Employment Law Project interviewed temp and subcontracted workers at some of the biggest tech companies. We found:

  • 95% do some of the same work as permanent employees

  • 77% have been “temps” for more than a year

  • 69% were misled about the terms and conditions of their employment

  • 31% experience discrimination

Read our full report, including workers' quotes and stories here: Temps in Tech.

See USA Today’s coverage from 8/20/2021.

Are you a temp worker in tech? Take our temp worker survey to get connected to the national movement for workers’ rights!