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Immigrant and refugee workers undercut by temp agency hiring

Carlos Rich • Mar 12, 2011

Times are hard and a lot of Americans are having difficulty finding jobs.  Immigrants, refugees and other workers of color are having the hardest time.  With more states requiring that employers use E-Verify and Form I-9, some face discrimination in many places where they apply for work.

And the increasing prevalence of temp agencies is making matters worse.

Warehouse Workers for Justice reports that 70% of Chicagoland warehouses employ temps rather than direct hires. Many workers report that in suburban Will County, where many warehouses are located, it’s impossible to find work anywhere other than at a staffing agency.

Corporations use temp agencies to employ large numbers of workers without providing proper wages and benefits.  On the flip side, temp agencies are popping up all over the country, taking advantage of people in dire economic situations.

A common practice is for a temp agency to post a fictitious job position with a good wage to draw in as many people as possible. They lure folks into coming in and applying for jobs that do not exist so they can have a pool of applications to draw from.  

When a company needs to hire a large workforce, it will contact the agency before hiring directly and the agency will draw upon its large pool of worker applicants. The temp agency gets a kickback for each position it fills and that makes it a lucrative and manipulative industry.

Temp agencies have contributed to weakened labor in the U.S.

Ironically, companies are still making billions of dollars in profits, but workers no longer have the ability to organize or negotiate their salary.  They can no longer access basic benefits like vacation pay, sick pay or affordable insurance.

Corporations’ not having to be accountable to their workers has serious repercussions. Where will workers go if they get hurt on the job? The company cleans its hands because they do not employ them.  Will the temp agencies be responsible? I don’t think so.

Instead of letting theses temp agencies continue to operate and take away the power of workers, we must help workers negotiate their own terms with their desired employer when entering the workforce.  We need to demand living wages for all workers.

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