Monday, September 04, 2017

Labor Day 2017

I blame myself.

In 1987, I left a full-time, full-benefits job because I moved out of the state where I was employed. Once the company ascertained that I could legally work for them as an independent contractor (some states did not allow this), I kept right on working for them. Without the benefits and on a per-piece basis.

I bought a computer and set aside part of my home for an office. For the next 20 years, I was self-employed. The company that got my work made a better profit on me than on its full-time workers ... so the company moved more and more work onto more and more independent contractors.

This was a bonanza for me for awhile. I had my husband's health insurance. I could make good money. I got to be home with my kids while they were growing up. I loved the work. I wrote four books plus chapters and sections of many others -- all fascinating stuff. The 1990s were prosperous for me.

Then the whole thing slid to Hell.

Competition ramped up for the contracts. The company forced me to incorporate as my own small business. Then I had to start coding my work (another pioneering effort -- I was coding before coding was cool). The fee structure plummeted.  Then another small corporation undercut my small corporation, and I lost all my contracts. That was 2005.

I had helped open the door to the idea that people will work without benefits. That companies could give work to "independent contractors" rather than hire a staff.

I was essentially an invisible scab.

The company that employed me in 1987 should have had a bargaining unit that would have insisted on rules against outside contractors. It didn't. And who was I? A new homeowner and mother-to-be who needed a part-time job. The macroeconomic implications of the work situation never occurred to me.


The cat is out of the bag. Why hire full time and get stuck with all that pesky paperwork and those expensive benefits, when you can get a few part-timers, work them just as hard, and expect them to care for their own health and retirement? Only some bleeding heart would want to see his profits gobbled by insurance payments and paid vacation days!

This scenario? It's coming soon to every line of work there is. Including public school teaching.

I know you won't believe me, but this used to be a humor blog.

5 comments:

JACKIESUE said...

you and many others..did and do what they have to do..

Ol'Buzzard said...

That's why we need universal health care: Medicare for all.
the Ol'Buzzard

Jono said...

I think a lot of us had a better sense of humor. I think the decline started with Reagan and it has been picking up speed ever since.

Debi said...

Retail has gone the same way, High energy costs has sent manufacturing else where, financial institutions, are heading digital.....Our children must learn what is coming! It's the way of the world, not just 🇺🇸Saving the world from destruction would be a good job!
xoDebi

Anonymous said...

We need to start developing an alternative vision for what we want the world to be. We have had enough of analysis of the problem. Now we need solutions. At my regular discussion group Monday I will be leading a discussion on "Inventing the Future" using the Leap Manifesto as a base reading. If that goes well, I'm going to have a discussion series on it at the Unitarian Universalist church. If that works -- who knows where next, but we need to work on the vision and the details.
--Kim Cooper