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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Contract Work is a Sweet Poison

This morning, I want to talk about something that most of society wants to ignore ... contract work.  It is something that has provided much needed income in my life, when finding a job and later being able to work at a job became difficult.  However, it has justifiable critics and worthy criticism that we all know as being true, even as we continue feeding the beast.  The end result will be the increase of every society ill we know, today.

Where Did We Get Contract Work?

Many people earning from contract work believe that doing so is..sticking it to the man, since they are earning money from side job and even call it "SELF employment" as if they are a robin hood.  In some cases that is true, but we need to step back and see where it came from, who the leading payers are, and why they are doing it.

My first venture into contract employment was not Appen or Mturk or Textbroker or even Uber.  Before all of those, it was as a worker with IBM.  IBM contracts with Manpower staffing to provide a means of having workers that are not IBM employees but Manpower employees.  At least in this case, they are still employees with protections, but it is done to be able to PAY LESS to their workers.

And, there is the motivation why big companies are doing it.  Contract work organizations that connect workers to tasks are not the origin of those tasks, only the highway.  When organizations like Textbroker or Mturk post a job on their boards that you can accept, it is because COMPANIES are putting those tasks there, instead of paying employees to do it.  Why?  Because they can pay less...MUCH less.  Uber and Lyft built on this idea by building an entire company based on providing work allowing CUSTOMERS to pay less than taking a taxi, because their were workers willing to accept LESS THAN MINIMUM WAGE to do it...much less.

The Problem.

And, that is the problem.  While millions of company executives and customers celebrate their lower costs, it is coming as a result of a system created TO BYPASS EMPLOYEE PROTECTIONS and pay workers wages less than found in A CHINESE SWEATSHOP. 

When I was driving for Uber and Lyft in Tulsa, I was pulling in about 2-3 dollars per hour average.  When I began with online data contracting, I was making about the same or less with the various options that I used.  Mturk....even after hitting the 1000 hits / 98 percent standard for higher paying tasks...is still paying me less than a pizza delivery person in Tulsa would get for pay, despite daily doing tasks for Ivy League schools, Research Firms, Governments, and more.  I have found one organization that DOES pay more than minimum wage, and Appen has made a big difference in my lifestyle ability as a result.

It screams of hypocrisy that our society condemns the sweatshops overseas but glorifies them for workers in this country.  I appreciate the fact that they existed, because I would not have been able to work without them.  However, they should PAY accordingly, just as Appen does, for their workers.  It is possible to demand that those contracting for the workers should be held to the same income, discrimination, and protection standards as in store employees.  If their corporate profits cannot sustain those wages, they shouldn't be doing the work at all.

Maintaining Illusions and the Unemployment Rate

However, those with money like to keep their money, and that is not only running business practices but the reporting about the situation, as well.  The gauges of our society's economy is off-kilter, and everyone knows it.  The Republicans scream about the wonderfully low unemployment rate, even as everyone I know knows someone that can't find a professional job and HAS to do contract work.  How do those things coincide?

It is, because the Unemployment rate only tracks those that are applying for unemployment income from the government.  However, they changed the rules a few decades ago so that you can't APPLY for unemployment income, IF YOU HAVE A CONTRACT JOB.  So, those that are WORKING for what they can get are eliminated from assistance, leaving only those that are not working at all.  As a result, the huge rise we are seeing in contract work that allows employers to pay workers less than minimum wage has resulted in NO RISE in the rates meant to judge the economic conditions of work in America, so the entire cycle talked about above is invisible.

So...who is going to do something about it...who will even mention it and offend their media boss doing the same for articles?  We will continue going down this path of expanding the sweet poison of contract work, until minimum wage as a concept is destroyed, and we all become sweatshop workers in the new American Economy.

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