Discussion: Inside the Rise of America’s Temp Towns

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In collaboration with ProPublica, TIME published an in-depth investigation into the booming temp industry, as it replaces a growing number of blue-collar jobs across the country. Roughly 2.7 million temp workers are currently employed in the U.S—a sector that’s “roaring back 10 times faster than private-sector employment as a whole,” wrote reporter Michael Grabell.

What’s behind this economic shift? And how does it impact the workers staffing “the supply chain of America’s largest companies”? On Friday at 2 pm ET, reporter Michael Grabell (@MichaelGrabell) will be joined by sociologist George Gonos, an expert on the temp industry, and Leone Bicchieri, executive director of the Chicago Workers’ Collective, to answer your questions.

Join the conversation below, or tweet your questions with the hashtag #TempLand.


My fiancé works for a "high class" temp agency. He applied to a company, "N" (I'm withholding names for fear of retaliation) at a New York Department of Labor Job Center. He applied on the computer at www"N"com. and received a call from their temp agency "M". He was hired as a temp, full time and indefinitely, at $9 per hour, regular full time workers earn $14 with yearly raises, health benefits, 401K with 12% employer contribution, paid time off, tuition reimbursements etc... We don't even know if either company "N" or "M" are paying the required FICA or FUTA taxes for my fiancé. He was offered a health plan but the plan cost more than a person could receive in benefits! To add insult to injury, company "N" called my fiancé and offered him a job, three weeks after he had signed on with the temp agency. When he asked if he could be hired directly instead of temporarily the company official said no. Some of my fiancé's co-temps have been working at "N" for more than three years. Many of them work 40-plus hour weeks and still receive welfare benefits to help feed their families, they get free medical services from the sliding scale clinic, and have no retirement plans save Social Security. It is a disgrace. What is even more appalling is that the State of New York gave company "N" a $20 million dollar corporate welfare package to encourage them to built another plant and hire another 100 full time workers with no stipulation that the workers not be temps.

The only way out of this mess is through better regulation of industry. The corporate giants that run this country have laws just for them, so they don't have to pay too much real estate tax, too much income tax, too much payroll tax. While individual taxes and the federal deficit go up and up. It is not enough for a State to say "Not Here" companies will only move to a state more willing to play ball. The federal government needs to get its act together and start writing legislation that protects the people, not corporations.


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