The Challenge of Temporary Work in Twenty-First Century Labor Markets: Flexibility with Fairness for the Low-Wage Temporary Workforce

Western New England University School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-7

University of Massachusetts, Amherst - Labor Relations and Research Center Working Paper

43 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2011 Last revised: 15 Dec 2011

See all articles by Harris Freeman

Harris Freeman

Western New England University School of Law; Labor Center University of Massachusetts

George Gonos

Florida International University, Center for Labor Research and Studies; State University of New York at Potsdam

Date Written: December 12, 2011

Abstract

As the Commonwealth wrestles with the social and economic aftershocks of the worst economic recession in 80 years, the widespread use of temporary staffing arrangements is a sober reminder that the “standard” employment relationship, a cornerstone of the prosperity of the post-­World War II era, is no longer available to a large segment of the American workforce. “Job ladders” have disintegrated, depriving capable and dedicated workers of predictable promotions. Regular step increases in pay and cost-­of-­living adjustments are in many occupational categories a thing of the past. Simply put, the “good jobs” working people need to support families, pay the mortgage and finance a college education are far too scarce.

This report provides policy-makers an assessment of temporary low-wage work in Massachusetts as it affects workers, businesses, and the growth of the Massachusetts economy. Each day, about 25,000 temporary staffing agency workers toil in low-­wage industrial and service jobs in the Commonwealth. These workers, like hundreds of thousands of Americans, hold down precarious staffing jobs characterized by erratic schedules, poverty wages, hazardous conditions and demeaning treatment.

Keywords: low-wage temporary work, temping, unregulated labor, low-wage economy, vulnerable workforce, labor law

JEL Classification: K31

Suggested Citation

Freeman, Harris and Gonos, George, The Challenge of Temporary Work in Twenty-First Century Labor Markets: Flexibility with Fairness for the Low-Wage Temporary Workforce (December 12, 2011). Western New England University School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-7, University of Massachusetts, Amherst - Labor Relations and Research Center Working Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1971222 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1971222

Harris Freeman (Contact Author)

Western New England University School of Law ( email )

1215 Wilbraham Road
Springfield, MA 01119
United States

Labor Center University of Massachusetts ( email )

Gordon Hall
418 N. Pleasant St. Suite B
Amherst, MA 01002-1735
United States

George Gonos

Florida International University, Center for Labor Research and Studies ( email )

985 NW 126 Court
11200 SW 8th Street
Miami, FL 33182
United States
3058536368 (Phone)
33182 (Fax)

State University of New York at Potsdam ( email )

985 NW 126 Court
SUNY at Potsdam
Miami, FL 33182
United States
3058536368 (Phone)

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