The Rise of ‘Never-Never’ Employment

Reposted from the AFL-CIO NOW Blog

How did we end up with all these low-wage, no-benefit temporary jobs in our economy?

Erin Hatton, of State University of New York at Buffalo, had a fascinating read in the New York Times this weekend, The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy, tracing the rise in America of the temp industry, and how it forged “new cultural consensus about work and workers.” Hatton says:

American employers have generally taken the low road: lowering wages and cutting benefits, converting permanent employees into part-time and contingent workers, busting unions and subcontracting and outsourcing jobs. They have done so, in part, because of the extraordinary evangelizing of the temp industry, which rose from humble origins to become a global behemoth.

U.S. companies fueled the rise of the temp industry by buying the promise of “never-never” employees—who never ask for a raise, take a sick day or stick around when the employer is finished with them.

Hatton concludes:

If we want good jobs rather than just any jobs, we need to figure out how to preserve what is useful and innovative about temporary employment while jettisoning the anti-worker ideology that has come to accompany it.

Read the op-ed piece here.