Another choice of protection or freedom

Posted by:whitridge in Business & Technology
05 March 2014 0

I read an article yesterday forwarded to me from a friend that cried out for “Temp Worker Protection,” stating that the U.S. lags behind the rest of the developed nations in “temp worker” protection. I can’t help but cry foul here for a myriad of reasons over and above that the facts are wrong; example: “usually the maximum length of an assignment is two years.” What elongated study did that come from?

But the fundamental  argument  I have is with the contention that the government should put laws in place that would require a term limit be put on a “consulting, contracting, temporary” (all interchangeable terms used for contingent workers) worker’s assignment with laws such as exist in South Korea and Chile as models. These laws would limit the time a worker could be on the same temporary assignment to two years and then they would be required to become a direct employee of the company or leave.

The writer, Michael Grabell, for the publication ProPublica, obviously has no idea what the Free Agent Nation refers to or the prediction that over 70 million people in the U.S. will be independent contractors by the year 20201. This is another example of a myopic view by an uninformed journalist seeking a cause to create for the benefit of his public image.

The examples he cites in his almost six page dissertation are around the health and safety of workers that “crawl into machines to clear them of debris and get crushed, obviously a major portion of the contingent worker population” (NOT). He cites an instance where a driver for a freight company was a “temp” for nearly six years. Did anyone consider that he may have applied for a full time position and been rejected for one of many reasons? Was someone stopping him from going to a competing freight company and applying for position as a regular employee?

The overriding issue is the lack of recognition that there is a very large population of contingent workers that enjoy the flexibility of being a temporary free agent, for several reasons: They may have a spouse who already has all the benefits they need, and they can make as much as 30% to 40% more net earnings in a contingent role than the regular employee that works next to him or her.

Does Mr. Grabell want to take the right of choice away from workers that want to be employed in a way other than the “old American way” prolonged by the unions until they put many of our manufacturers out of business?
The simple fact is we live in a capitalistic society that is driven by freedom of choice for companies, consumers and workers. To legislate away the ability for a worker to choose which type of relationship they want to have with their place of work is like trying to dictate the style of house we buy. We all have our own tastes, needs, desires, and aspirations. If I believe that being a contingent worker in information technology, engineering, accounting, or finance (referred to as “white collar temps” in the article) is going to accelerate my career or allow me to increase my disposable income, the government should not have any say in the matter; that is my right.
Workplace safety for all employees is, of course, of primary concern everywhere and absolutely should be overseen by the government; I believe that is what OSHA is tasked to do here in the United States. If we have laws and agencies already in place, let’s make darn sure they are doing their job before we again legislate freedoms away from our citizens. To reference the laws in South Korea, Germany, Chile and Poland which are not emblematic of a worker’s paradise is foolhardy.

Leave the choice of work arrangement to the individual and the enforcement of safety to the agencies that are already there to protect the workers’ safety and avoid calamities like the one noted in the article. We as individuals can protect ourselves - we all collectively need to protect our freedoms.

The full article referenced can be found at www.propublica.org

1 http://www.workforce.com/articles/majority-of-workers-to-be-independent-...