Saturday, June 29, 2013

Temp Nation

We need a national Temp Workers Bill of Rights. These are the most vulnerable people in our country, people who really want to work, and they need protection under the law.

Compare today's Temp Nation to what we had from 1950 to about 1980, with a blue-collar U.S. middle class with steady wages, hours and benefits like medical insurance and a pension.  Those people and those jobs made America the greatest economy the world has ever known.  And we're shipping those jobs overseas and replacing the ones that are left with temps.  America cannot sustain its greatness in this way.  We need to think bigger and not leave the "free market" to destroy our labor force and middle class.  

Check it out [emphasis mine]:

Across America, temporary work has become a mainstay of the economy, leading to the proliferation of what researchers have begun to call “temp towns.” They are often dense Latino neighborhoods teeming with temp agencies. Or they are cities where it has become nearly impossible even for whites and African-Americans with vocational training to find factory and warehouse work without first being directed to a temp firm.

In June, the Labor Department reported that the nation had more temp workers than ever before: 2.7 million. Overall, almost one-fifth of the total job growth since the recession ended in mid-2009 has been in the temp sector, federal data shows. But according to the American Staffing Association, the temp industry’s trade group, the pool is even larger: Every year, a tenth of all U.S. workers finds a job at a staffing agency.

The proportion of temp workers in the labor force reached its peak in early 2000 before the 2001 slump and then the Great Recession. But as the economy continues its slow, uneven recovery, temp work is roaring back 10 times faster than private-sector employment as a whole – a pace “exceeding even the dramatic run-up of the early 1990s,” according to the staffing association.

The overwhelming majority of that growth has come in blue-collar work in factories and warehouses, as the temp industry sheds the Kelly Girl image of the past. Last year, more than one in every 20 blue-collar workers was a temp.

And wanna talk about racial inequality?  Blacks and Latinos each make up 20 percent of all temp workers in the U.S., or 40 percent, total.  As conservatives like to note, minorities make up a disproportionate number of welfare recipients, relative to their share of the U.S. population.  Well, the same is true of temp and minimum-wage laborers.  These are poor and minority Americans who want to work and they are forced to live on the knife edge of poverty, with constant insecurity.  We must do better by those who want to work!

By Michael Grabell
June 27, 2013 | Pro Publica

No comments: