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.