Setback for Temp Workers

The Supreme Court reversed a decision by the 9th Circuit today.  The original complaint had argued that security measures at Amazon warehouses forced temp workers employed by Integrity Staffing Solutions to wait in long lines for security screenings after every shift.  These security screenings lasted as long as 25 minutes every day.  Workers argued that because these screenings were done for the benefit of the company workers should be compensated.  The 9th Circuit agreed with the workers but unfortunately, the Supreme Court reversed the decision.

While this is a setback, it only goes to show how little current laws protect workers, and how insulated the courts are from the needs of working class people.

CWC petitions government agencies to enforce labor violations against Most Valuable Personnel

Months of leafleting and dialogue with MVP temp workers reveal brazen disregard for the law

After many conversations with temp workers at Most Valuable Personnel (MVP), Chicago Workers Collaborative announces that it has filed charges on behalf of MVP’s employees to petition the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to investigate ongoing violations of state and federal laws. Operating under a variety of names and employing as many as 40,000 workers in 8 states, MVP has about 10 branch offices around the Chicago area including locations in Cicero, Elmwood Park, West Chicago, Joliet, Prospect Heights, and Waukegan.

Click here to read the full article.

Representative Dunkin Announces Bill to Bring Down Barriers to Jobs

"This is a new day," stated Rep. Dunkin. "And I am proud to be a part of this growing Bringing Down Barriers coalition, so that we can attain justice for all workers in our states temp staffing sector."

“This is a new day,” stated Rep. Dunkin. “And I am proud to be a part of this growing Bringing Down Barriers coalition, so that we can attain justice for all workers in our states temp staffing sector.”

Latino Worker Activists Stand United with African-American Workers to Address Temp Staffing Industry Hiring Practices

On Wednesday, October 8th, Illinois State Representative Kenneth Dunkin (D-5), leader of the Black Caucus of the Illinois General Assembly, announced he will introduce legislation which will offer hope to thousands of African-American job-seekers who are routinely denied work on the basis of their race by the temporary staffing industry.

“It is a shame that we have to hear about the abuses Latino workers are suffering at the hands of some of the bad actors in temp staffing,” Dunkin said, “And it is sad that in 2014 that we still hear from African American workers that they find it very difficult to be accepted for employment at temp staffing offices.”

“However, this is a new day,” stated Dunkin, “And I am proud to be a part of this growing Bringing Down Barriers coalition, so that we can attain justice for all workers in our states temp staffing sector.”

The African American unemployment rate tends to be about double that of whites, regardless of the economic climate. A 2011 Economic Policy Institute (EPI) study concluded that labor market discrimination is at the root of African-American male underemployment. The study analyzes employment data and determines that occupational preferences and a dearth of “soft skills” are not the causes of employment disparities between blacks and whites. By systematically excluding those other causes, EPI concludes that discrimination must exist in today’s job market.

Unfortunately, many African-American workers have approached the Chicago Workers Collaborative with a similar story: When they apply for work at day and temporary service agencies, the agencies do not hire them.

“The temporary staffing industry is the gatekeeper for hundreds of thousands of jobs in our state,” says Richard Wallace, the main organizer of the Bringing Down Barriers Campaign. “It should play by the same rules as other large businesses and not be used to shut out certain races from jobs.”

Numerous recent media reports describe how Latino temp workers often labor segregated from native-born workers in deplorable, unsafe conditions; experience wage theft, sexual harassment, and other violations to their rights.

“Temp agencies believe that they can take advantage of immigrant workers like me,” says Rosa Ramirez, a temp rights activist with CWC. “For example, I have often seen that companies will put two immigrant temp workers to operate a machine which is designed to be operated by four workers. We immigrants are learning our rights and say that two more workers should be hired to operate that machine. And they should be African-American.”

The bill amends the Illinois Day and Temporary Labor Services Act to require a day and temporary service agency, as part of its record-keeping obligations, to collect demographic information from job seekers on a contact form which allows each laborer to self-identify his or her race and gender. The bill requires that this information to be maintained separately from any personnel files used to make job assignments.
We would like to thank a number of important allies who were present to support the Bringing Down Barriers policy campaign:
Chicago Jobs with Justice
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists
Men and Women in Prison Ministries
Northern Illinois Jobs with Justice
Raise the Floor (Worker Center alliance)
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881
Worker Center for Racial Justice

The Permanent Temp Economy

Rebecca Smith, Deputy Director of the National Employment Law Project recently had an Op-Ed published by US News & World Report which examines the current trend towards low-paying, dangerous temp jobs.  NELP  and the National Staffing Workers Alliance recently released Temped Out: How the Domestic Outsourcing of Blue Collar Jobs Harms America’s Workers .

The Permanent Temp Economy

Staffing industry jobs need not be degraded and dangerous jobs. We can implement solutions to protect the rights of the 2.8 million staffing workers and the many millions of America’s franchised and outsourced workers. We should follow the lead of most European and Latin American countries and restrict temporary work to truly temporary jobs created by staff shortages or special projects. We should guarantee temporary workers the same wages and benefits that direct hires receive and restrict outsourcing in hazardous jobs. Lastly we should enforce existing laws and pass new measures to ensure that Costco, Walmart and other leading U.S. companies take responsibility for the people who make and move their products.

Click here to read the full article.

NELP & NSWA Release New Report on the Temp Industry

The National Staffing Workers Alliance and the National Employment Law Project recently released a report examining the growth of the temp industry.  This is a comprehensive look at the industry and which sectors of the economy are increasingly reliant on temp labor.

The Rapid growth of the temp industry presents challenges for the government agencies which protect workers as well as worker organizations.  This report looks not only at the data, which shows an explosive growth of the industry, but also highlight workers and their stories of fighting back.

Staffing work is one part of a larger story about the declining middle class in our country. More and more, major corporations are separating themselves from the workers who make their products and supply their shelves by inserting labor intermediaries who are nominally the employers” of these workers.

We encourage everyone to download and disseminate the report to your friends and allies.

Click here to download the full report.



NY Times Article Highlights Problems with the Growth of the Temp Industry

The NY Times writer Steven Greenhouse  published an article highlighting the rapid growth of the temp industry in the years following the end of the “great recession”.   Mr. Greenhouse shows the growth of the temp industry, especially in the industrial and logistics sectors, is now at record highs and how this has led to several problems including health and safety issues.

Click here to view the full article.

Temp Worker Dies Because Plant Manger Said Safety Device Was Slowing Production

A recent investigation by ProPublica and Univision expose the death of a New Jersey worker who died in a Pennsylvania sugar plant and how New Jersey based temp agencies completely disregarded worker safety.  The sugar plant in question, CSC Sugar, had been previously been cited for violating health and safety regulations and repeatedly disregards the safety of temp workers,