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Disposable Girls, Uninsured Laborers
January 28, 2013 7:23 AM   Subscribe

“Never takes a vacation or holiday. Never asks for a raise. Never costs you a dime for slack time. (When the workload drops, you drop her.)" A brief history of temps.

Also, the growth in dangerous conditions for temp workers [PDF, via HuffPo].
posted by psoas (50 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Welcome to ten solid years of my life.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:26 AM on January 28, 2013 [13 favorites]


I should clarify, to be fair - eight of those ten years was my own choice, because I was trying to sustain a theater career at the very same time. But the lack of paid vacation time ultimately ground me down, and when I finally did get a full-time job -- at the very institution where I'd been temping for ten solid years - I couldn't count any of those ten years towards "time served" and the benefits package was what they'd offer to someone who'd never worked there before.

So yeah, some of this was my own doing, and I was fortunate enough to have health insurance and a 401(k) through my agency, but the situation still could have been improved upon.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:29 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


To be fair, wide swaths of pink collar and blue collar and retail businesses already treat "regular" "employees" as described here. I've met the above description at a family-owned business for longer than I'm willing to admit. See "hourly worker"--especially one you keep juuuuuust below fulltime (i.e. 38.5 hours, like the woman I knew who tried for years to work her way into benefits at Walmart so her kid wouldn't be on the state health care program. They told her she should just enroll her kid in the state health care program). And everyone is eminently more disposable now that the labor market has gotten so insane. (To the point where now when I read the old--and formerly accurate--argument about how "undocumented immigrants work the jobs no one else will", I can't help thinking to myself, "not in the last couple years, not if you actually know people at the bottom of the economic barrel right now." But thats a different discussion for a different FPP.)
posted by availablelight at 7:32 AM on January 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


I did my time as an office temp too in my late teens and early 20s. Mostly because I had excellent office skills from working at my mom's office when they needed help. Aside from the leering older men and having to wear skirt/slacks, it certainly paid better than most of my friends' summer/other jobs.

Wouldn't do it again for love or money, though.
posted by Kitteh at 7:32 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I started temping, I read an article very similar to The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy. That was in 1992. Not sure if this means that the trend has continued for 20 years or if it means that in periods of economic downturn employers lean harder on temps.
posted by rednikki at 7:39 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, you'd be SHOCKED how much of the administrative staff in various corporations in New York is comprised of long-term temps.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:40 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


But temp industry leaders continued to encourage companies to “rent” workers rather than “buy” them.

There we go, NYT finally just outright says it right there. The editor probably requested they put in the sarcastic quotes because unedited it would be too close to the truth.
posted by hellojed at 7:50 AM on January 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


Welcome to ten solid years of my life.

Me too. Eleven years. Also by choice. But I prefer to call it "consulting". I would not trade it for a full time gig. There is nothing wrong with temp work - and a lot of benefit - so long as there is a premium paid for it.
posted by three blind mice at 7:53 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is nothing wrong with temp work - and a lot of benefit - so long as there is a premium paid for it.

There's the rub. I suspect that an admin attempting to get the same kind of premium paid for her work as a "consultant" does would have a hard go of it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:57 AM on January 28, 2013 [10 favorites]


Me too. Eleven years. Also by choice. But I prefer to call it "consulting". I would not trade it for a full time gig. There is nothing wrong with temp work - and a lot of benefit - so long as there is a premium paid for it.

You realize how privileged that statement is?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:59 AM on January 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


He doesn't.
posted by invitapriore at 7:59 AM on January 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


Me too. Eleven years. Also by choice. But I prefer to call it "consulting". I would not trade it for a full time gig. There is nothing wrong with temp work - and a lot of benefit - so long as there is a premium paid for it.

If you're setting your own hours and working conditions and are evaluated based on contractually agreed outcomes, you're a consultant. If you don't have control over working hours and have to be in the "client's" office to get paid, you're a temp.

They have very little in common beyond not being full-time employees.
posted by atrazine at 8:06 AM on January 28, 2013 [37 favorites]


three blind mice: "But I prefer to call it "consulting"."

Then it's pretty much not temping. I get where you're coming from, but temping and consulting are two different things.
posted by boo_radley at 8:06 AM on January 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


Basically Inwas in the 35-38.5 situation all but 5 years of my working life. It really is pernicious if you add in not being able to drive, due to a visible vision defect.
I would have been DELIGHTED to do stoop labor. When I was younger I definately could keep up with a Non-American worker while fasting, but you need to DRIVE to go to those jobs.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:14 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


three blind mice: "Me too. Eleven years. Also by choice"

You also live in a country that has a sane health care system.
posted by notsnot at 8:17 AM on January 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


Temp agencies are the scum of the earth, and I eagerly await their extinction. They take money you earn, for as long as you're working at a job they got you. That's sick. I wouldn't mind paying a one-time upfront fee for the service of placing me in a job, but once that's done, why should I still have to pay them? What right do they have to skim a (hefty) percentage off my pay in perpetuity? They're no better than pimps or mafiosos, taking money they didn't earn from people who are powerless to do anything about it. Fuck them.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:27 AM on January 28, 2013 [13 favorites]


Not only that, but if someone does manage to transition to a regular employee the temp agency usually gets a nice buyout, which no doubt factors into compensation.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:30 AM on January 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


Temp agencies prevented me from starving or going homeless in my mid-to-late teens, and for that I will be forever grateful to them, but the older I get, the more temping feels like it's taken on a tinge of indentured servitude.

My current position, which was advertised as temp-to-perm, required my would-be employer to agree to pay the agency who placed me a sizable amount of money if they decided to hired me on as a permanent employee (which they did).
I actually worked for the same agency who placed me prior to getting this job, and I believe the choices were something like a lump sum based on something like 2% of 10 years' worth of projected salary or a straight 5% of actual salary for 5 years. They chose the latter, so while I've been working here for 11 years, I've only been free and clear of my teenage-era temp agency for six.
posted by divined by radio at 8:50 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


It is the middle class making money out of the labour and work of the working class. At least in the UK we get holiday pay and can take a week off.
posted by marienbad at 8:56 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just under three years temping for me, out of 27 years employed. Part of it I actually enjoyed the knowledge that I would not be THERE forever. But twice, I was brought in on a 'temp to perm' basis, basically a three-month-long audition for the REAL job, which I always aced and got fully hired-on, one time impressing the new boss so well, I was made permanent five weeks before they had to, which the agency told me almost never happens (it costs the employer more to do it that way). But I was of good health all of those times and so was the economy. When there was a recession on, or when I or my then-wife had health crises, I knew I had to hold onto that job for dear life.

But when my health was failing 11 years ago, I knew my position was inevitably going to be eliminated by changes in the company (they didn't need creative persons in my department anymore). But my employer was so happy with my years of service (and fortunately there were people there who remembered all 10 of my years there) that they were more than willing to see me through the maximum time of unemployment (which they had to pay for) and state disability (which they also had to partly pay for) before I qualified for Social Security Disability. The blessing of working for a classy company as my last employer (and the classiest of my working career... yeah, it was also the place that hired me from temp five weeks early).
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:58 AM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ugh I'm a temp right now, and the difference between what I get paid and what the agency charges is... significant. It really sucks.
posted by Aubergine at 9:42 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you're setting your own hours and working conditions and are evaluated based on contractually agreed outcomes, you're a consultant. If you don't have control over working hours and have to be in the "client's" office to get paid, you're a temp.

Actually I think I am somewhere in between those two, doing a media 'creative' job which requires me to turn up for working hours, is charged by the hour, and doesn't always have outcomes that can be set out in a contract very easily (and I've never been offered one anyway).

Obviously pensions and benefits don't exist (and I've never had those in almost 20 years of working anywhere). But it's well paid and the 'creative' side means it's theoretically hard to outsource me (although that can't be far off).

This is the life of the urban media-tech industry 'freelancer' and it's the only setup most of my friends have ever known. God knows what will happen when I'm 55 or so.
posted by colie at 9:55 AM on January 28, 2013


New York has this backwards state law that prohibits temps from staying temp after one year. I think it was made to protect people from being stuck in a "forever temp" situation by encouraging companies to hire. Instead, companies are able to pick from an ever-revolving door of desperate temps to do their bidding. They entice you with talk of being staff after a year, when they really want to be able to hire and fire you whenever they want (without liability), and not have to provide benefits.

My first real job out of college was like this. It was advertised as a "temp to perm" coordinator position at a well-known broadcasting network in NY. I had just graduated from college in 2009 and was hitting 9 months of unemployment, so I eagerly accepted. It turned out to be really thankless, repetitive work that had been turned into a position because none of the staff wanted to do it. That should've raised flags but I was desperate for any kind of job.

My situation was extra sucky because despite my positive performance reviews and the verbalized hints that I would become salaried staff, my boss only gave me three weeks notice that the position was, in fact, going to stay temp. And I had worked so hard until then believing I was going to become staff! Shame on me for ignoring the signs -- he did typical corporate douchebag stuff like preface everything he said with "off the record" to avoid liability for anything.
posted by hellomina at 10:00 AM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


New York has this backwards state law that prohibits temps from staying temp after one year.

I wouldn't be so sure - I'm in NYC and one of my temp assignments ran four years.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:17 AM on January 28, 2013


"But I prefer to call it "consulting"."

I call it freelancing and it is how I am employed. And though often highly insecure and fraught with challenges, it's an entirely different beast than the actual temping I did years ago.
posted by thivaia at 10:36 AM on January 28, 2013


Hmm. I'm in the UK and work in relatively high tech, high quality areas. I'm full time, but temps are common - roughly 50:50 mix at the most, drops a lot during quiet time. The thing is, temping isn't really optional for the employers.

The company that I worked for making vacuum pumps was very closely tied to the semiconductor industry. During the time I was with them and historically, that industry has had regular, predictable fluctuations - booming and busting over the course of a few years.

They literally could not survive with all permanent staff - you couldn't afford to pay everyone when demand is 50% or less of peak, or keep up with customer orders when things peaked. Letting a full-time employee go in the UK is expensive - three month's notice is normal, lots of paperwork, lots of money etc. Letting a temp go is easy - a week's notice or so (they always tried to give more warning, of course, but the flexibility is there).

When the down-cycle came in, they'd 'let the temps go' but keep the permanents on. When the market improved, they could hire new temps or preferably get the old ones back. Obviously they let the worst temps go first and they almost never got rid of all the temps. The best ones were then offered full time employment, just to stop them going elsewhere, taking years of experience and skills with them.

It wasn't great for the temps, but the money was solid (precision assembly factory work, not secretarial stuff) and it was a chance for a full-time good job with a good employer. Your years not counting for loyalty benefits, the lack of pension, lack of bonus health insurance etc. aren't great, but I don't think either the employer or the employee had too much choice.

My main point is, if you don't use temp workers then you will not do as well as companies that do. If you want change, you'll need to pay for it somehow. You can't expect a moral movement to stop temping - it needs to be legislative - and it won't make many people's lives better, even if it happens.
posted by YAMWAK at 10:40 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


My last, and hopefully final, temp job:
It seemed like a nice enough place. It was for a maternity leave...supposedly, three solid months of employment. I was even trained by the person I was replacing for a week before she left.
However, after she left, somebody ELSE had to check my work...and she did it completely differently than the person who trained me. I was simple enough to assume that the office manager, who seemed to be nice and was experienced, would understand that that was what was going on. I was wrong.
Then the work slowed down around Christmas.
Then I came in a few minutes late two days in a row, after having been punctual for weeks.
No matter that the permanent employees did this all the time. My doing it was anathema.
So I was let go well before my time was up. And the manager told me, "You've been making more than anybody else here". I really think she didn't even know the big difference between what the company pays for the temp and what the temp actually makes. I'll never know if she even knew that.
posted by serena15221 at 10:43 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm procrastinating from my temp job, at work at my terminal right now. I'll comment later when my bosses can't see.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:43 AM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


three blind mice: But I prefer to call it "consulting". I would not trade it for a full time gig. There is nothing wrong with temp work - and a lot of benefit - so long as there is a premium paid for it.
Eponysterical.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:55 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is a place for temporary work (which is distinct from consulting/freelancing). The problem isn't that some jobs are temporary -- the problem is that long-term jobs are filled by temps because they're cheaper and those temps don't get vacation pay or sick days or any benefits.
posted by jeather at 11:04 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Long-term temp here, in legal, secretarial, sales, tech support, food service, and industrial positions -- it really wouldn't be so bad if we had better access to health care outside of that (not) provided by employers. Readily-available paid time off would be amazing (holiday pay is frequently available through the agencies, but your hours have to have been steady for a long time to get it.)

The uncertainty's brutal, and the lack of time off wears you down.

I like many things about temping, not least of which is that it's work I can reliably get. I can honestly say I think it's fun to see what different workplaces are like and meet new people and learn new routines. I can outsource pay negotiations to my agency if I want (this is only a serious option in some positions in which you're the only temp around). I like being paid weekly. I like having the agency work to find jobs for me rather than spending more of my own time on job searching.

It mostly sucks when you're at a job month in, month out, and people are surprised that you're still there, since who'd put up with that? But right now, it's a job at which I can study on the clock and oh right MetaFilter, so it could be a lot worse.
posted by asperity at 11:12 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


You realize how privileged that statement is?

Yawn. There is a vast world that exists between the privileged and the disadvantaged and the regular old working stiffs of this world. You need to get out more Burhanistan.

Temporary work generally pays a premium. In part this is due to the regulations and costs which come with hiring a full time employee. Being able to avoid these costly regulations is what provides the premium. Manpower makes their money on the difference. It's not rocket science exactly.

Ugh I'm a temp right now, and the difference between what I get paid and what the agency charges is... significant. It really sucks.

Working for a temp agency sucks. Temporary work, per se, does not and offers many advantages over the mind-numbing, full time, being paid for 40 hours and working 60, corporate drone existence proffered as ideal. YMMV.
posted by three blind mice at 12:08 PM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


> You need to get out more Burhanistan.

No, you made an obtuse statement comparing your situation to someone who is much further down the economic scale, and further you were beating your chest. Getting out more? That's also obtuse, much like the bulk of your statements on the site.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:14 PM on January 28, 2013 [10 favorites]


Temping got me my first job, which led to my second job, which paid for my second degree, which got me my third job, which got me my current job, which is great. There's something to be said for a flexible labour market that allows young men like me to get into a position where we can learn the discipline and gain the experience to be productive and get a better job later on.
posted by alasdair at 12:41 PM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


three blind mice: Temporary work generally pays a premium.
Citation needed, because I'm pretty god-damned sure there are far more filing/shelving/Walmart temps than there are premium-paid consultants in the US. But, hey, if you can back your words up with something more meaningful than your anecdotal experience, go for it.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:46 PM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Temporary work generally pays a premium.

Ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

No.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:46 PM on January 28, 2013 [11 favorites]


Temporary work generally pays a premium.

Seven years ago I had a six month temporary assignment that paid $9/hour. Right now I'm on a six month temporary assignment that pays $15/hour.

Premium, my ass.
posted by palomar at 12:54 PM on January 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Three Blind Mice:

Working for a temp agency sucks. Temporary work, per se, does not and offers many advantages over the mind-numbing, full time, being paid for 40 hours and working 60, corporate drone existence proffered as ideal.

Perhaps we're at a disconnect because you're not from the US and are as such unaware that "temporary work" in the US almost exclusively refers to "working for a temp agency." What you are describing is not the same thing.

You're correct that contract work does afford the benefits you describe, but you are not talking about the kind of temporary work that this article is describing. This article is exclusively talking about the kind of "working for a temp agency" work.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:58 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, maybe this is a divided by a common language thing but "being a temp" and "working for a temp agency" are practically synonymous.
posted by Justinian at 1:17 PM on January 28, 2013


Ya gotta love Capitalism
posted by notreally at 1:34 PM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Temporary work generally pays a premium.

It's probably a language and culture issue here. But economically this makes sense, and it does happen to a degree, depending on how rational labour laws are in each country.

It may seem the non-permanent staff get a premium, but not really... where I've worked, at first glance, the same position would pay the $40 per hour for a permanent to do it but $70 per hour for a non-permanent full time, and close to $200 per hour for non-permanent "work as required" staff.

But on the books it works out pretty close to the same: once you calculate fringe benefits and add reserved amounts for leave, separation, super, etc, you'll find that $40 per hour for a permanent in reality costs something like $60 per hour to the company, and you find the company can be willing to pay the extra $10 per hour premium to the non-permanent for the luxury of getting rid of them whenever they want, and the huge extra premium for "work as required" staff.

But this isn't really talking about the same thing at all.
posted by xdvesper at 2:30 PM on January 28, 2013


....I can't even get a temp job right now.

I'm having a "shark not understanding the bear's comments about elbows" day now.
posted by mephron at 3:38 PM on January 28, 2013


Most of the work I got in the first six years of my career was from staffing agencies: a few one or two-day assignments, a few that were weeks to months long, one direct-to-perm hire, one temp-to-perm that hired me after about four months, and one temp-to-perm that never ever hired me, even though they kept promising to, for eighteen months.

There were some icky things that happened during my temp years. Like the company that laid off a half dozen employees a week or two after I started. One of the people they let go had the same position as me, but had been working there much longer. Or the time, at that company that refused to hire me, where one of the higher-ups went around handing everyone holiday bonuses of envelopes containing cash. I got one, and then thirty seconds later he returned to ask for it back, because I was, you know, not a real employee.

I started temping because I figured it would be a good way to keep afloat while I figured out a career path. Turned out it had the opposite effect. I wasn't suited to admin work, and it made me unhappy, and it made me feel terrible about my résumé and its growing list of admin positions that I wasn't good at and wasn't proud of. I came to rely on temp agencies to help me get work, because I felt unmarketable on my own. I thought admin work at companies I wasn't terribly fond of was all I could possibly get.

And it was true, as long as I went through the agencies; they just offer you more of the same work. Partly because that's all they have, partly because that's all they know about you, partly because temp agencies and their clients just don't care about your potential or your goals. The president of one staffing agency asked me where I wanted to be in five years. I answered that I was still considering my options, maybe I'd go to grad school. "Wrong," he told me. "Never answer that question like that." He told me I was supposed to give an answer about staying with one company and growing my skills and all that. To be fair, he had a point... but damn.

A couple months after the holiday bonus thing, I decided I'd had enough and started looking for jobs on my own. And I got one! They liked me, and I'd get a decent salary and everything! I was bowled over. I gave my notice, and my boss was like "eh, I figured this was coming." No offer of full-time work, no apology for the lack thereof.

And, in my new job, they liked me! I felt valuable! I got a raise, and I got additional responsibilities, and they even let me telecommute for a while. I left because of personal circumstances, and I would have liked to stay. And that job led, eventually, to my current job, which I like very much and feel good at and never want to leave.

I'm not going to be all "fuck temp agencies," because they did do me some good. But breaking free from them did me much more good. And I'm finally where I wanted to be in five years: not working for a temp agency.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:18 PM on January 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


I had a bitter experience with my last temp job. Downsizing made people more competitive for available positions, especially the supervisor spots with higher pay. I got to the ranks of supervisors, and was immediately spotted as talented and that's when the trouble started. I was in line for a permanent position, I waited 3 years to work my way up the ladder, only to see a total noob get the promotion. She had 3 weeks experience, and during those weeks, I was doing half their job for them. It turns out I was trapped. All the supervisors knew the super slots were drying up. Anyone who was up and coming, was a threat to their job and must be stopped. I got written up on false pretexts repeatedly, harassed, and blacklisted.

I totally sued them and totally lost. But I got the last laugh. The HR ladies that blacklisted me, got fired and asked to reapply as temps with no benefits.

Now I'm at a similar temp job for their competitor. On my first day, I made the wages I got after 3 years of raises and the supervisor bonus. It was hard to adjust to a workplace where people were friendly, and looked each other in the eyes, rather than avoiding interacting with other hostile people entirely. I was not surprised to hear other people refer to my prior company as "The Dark Side."

But dammit, they're still exploiting permatemps, even over here on the Light Side. And this is a non-profit that is rolling in dough, and could easily afford to hire everyone they can get their hands on. Workers like me are scarce, I'm in a job that requires a college degree and minimum proficiency in calculus and science. But we stupidly wait for our next assignments, with downtime between jobs, and slipping schedules that make personal financial planning impossible.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:50 PM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


You temps with your fancy "desks" and "computers."

Last time I temped they gave me "light industrial."

"Light industrial" meaning I had to wear a hard-hat all the way through an eight-hour shift, taught myself how to operate 10-ton industrial ovens (my supervisor was a temp like me and had no fucking clue, in addition to being high on Vicodin all the time), went home with first degree burns on my arms, and developed a pretty serious back problem.

10$/hour.

I'm snarking of course, but all of that was true. Temping is the modern-day equivalent of share-cropping. But for all the droney temp work I did during the summers in college and for my first year out of college living in a big city, for all those little slights and humiliations, it was nothing compared to the joke of a fucking company that paid people ten bucks an hour to run multi-million dollar pieces of machinery with absolutely no training beyond the OSHA compliance asshole waddling around (for some reason he weighed 400 pounds) saying "Don't get hurt!" and passing out -- no joke -- band-aids.

So that's late capitalism for you. Companies have gone so far in the direction of increasing profits by cutting salaries and benefits that they've completely lost the plot. Why not invest in workers to make them better at what they do? Why not think in the long-term of making better products through improved morale? Why not keep the old-timer on who makes an extra dollar per hour rather than fire him so you can hire the scrawny meth-addict who will, some time next week, be dragged screaming out of the bathroom by the county sheriff on a murder charge?

Because really, when you come to work one morning and half the plant has burned down because one of the alchoholic night-shift guys fell asleep and didn't take the mould out of the oven, well, that was the most beautiful fucking sight I've ever seen. Seriously, it was all worth it, even the scars on my forearms.

But all of this says as much about the horror of living in small-town America in the 21st century as it does temping.
posted by bardic at 6:46 PM on January 28, 2013 [13 favorites]


Why not keep the old-timer on who makes an extra dollar per hour rather than fire him

Because it's not just that extra dollar an hour, it's also the health benefits he might've gotten. When they're offered the chance to not only save that dollar but also all the other expenses associated with having actual employees? They're gonna take it every time, no matter the long-term risk to the company.

Thank goodness the "light industrial" temp work I did was in a regulated industry--we actually did get reasonable training. Not that most people paid enough attention to it all, especially the safety stuff. (I mean, really--you're working this job, most of what you've got to offer any employer is your health--why would you risk it when it gains you nothing?)
posted by asperity at 8:18 PM on January 28, 2013


I have two friends who got their (now-permanent in one case and now-almost-permanent in the other) jobs through temp agencies. They have the same exact position, for the same state school, but in different departments.

State U was infamous for transitioning temps into a full-time employment class called Type X. (Type X employees received no benefits or time off and were paid hourly.) Type X was intended as a temporary designation, but some temps-turned-type-Xes worked for close to a decade before someone paid attention and realized the status quo was illegal. Solution? They let go a ton of Type Xes at once.

One friend, a former Type X, managed to stay on as a true full-time employee but says she's an exception. The other is on a modified-Type-X plan and about to become full-time. She's petrified she'll have to return to the temping world if State U suddenly decides to drop her. (They do that.) Before State U she worked a series of jobs that dangled a full-time carrot in her face before snatching it away months later.

We all graduated in 2008, and temping was the best way for many to get their foot in the door, but at a price. I know that my friends will be haunted by job insecurity for many years to come.
posted by orangutan at 9:12 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, maybe this is a divided by a common language thing but "being a temp" and "working for a temp agency" are practically synonymous.

As a Brit, I'd certainly split temps (i.e. people who are employed for or via temp agencies or occasionally a hospital bank or the like) and consultants.
posted by Francis at 9:48 AM on January 29, 2013


I've temped, and it sucks the donkey d*ck.
Now I get to work an $8 an hour job at 36 hours a week.
Large print: health benefits after three months! Small print: whoops, just for full time workers. Raises after six months? Full timers.
How many part time workers in the same job? 20. How many full time workers? Zip.
The gal that's worked her five years? Same pay as I'm getting after five months.

God bless capitalism.
posted by BlueHorse at 12:26 AM on January 30, 2013


I have a friend who's been temping as a paralegal for a large software company in Redmond, WA. Same position, same group, six years; she takes her required 100-day break every 12 months and comes right back in. In what way is that a temporary position? (And no, she does not make a premium, particularly not when you consider that she spends 3 months of every 15 on unemployment.)
posted by KathrynT at 1:06 PM on February 8, 2013


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