Bloomberg has a story which describes a permanent underclass at Google and in the tech industry — temp workers. It’s a set-up that mirrors the economy at large — a clear division between the haves and the have-nots. The haves wear white badges and have full company privileges. The have-nots wear red badges and do not.
The have-nots make less, have no job security, sometimes have poor or no health benefits and 20% of their pay is pocketed by the agency which placed them. They have a two-year life span. Yet they manage people and are compelled to act, in every way, as full-time company employees.
It’s not a small workforce. Bloomberg asserts that at one point this year — maybe even now — Google’s permanent under-class outnumbered its full employees.
Let that sink in. The red badges, the underclass, outnumbers the privileged class.
They also work without protection from abuse, apparently, as all complaints are referred to their agency, which seemingly doesn’t care much about stuff like that.
When I was in the television industry, we used young interns for some tedious tasks. The Department of Labor and the IRS were very clear about what and wasn’t permitted. We also used freelance labor, typically photographers, editors and producers. Again, there was a clear understanding of the legal limitations on hours worked, equipment used, place of work.
Apparently the dodge with temp agencies is that these freelancers are technically their employees, although they don’t get paid until they’re placed with a tech company. As such, all of their benefits, such as they are, are also handled by the temp agency.
It’s a sweet deal for Google and the tech industry. Cheap labor.
I’m trying to think of a parallel in world history. When cheap — or free — labor underpinned the economy. Possibly they came from another city or region. Possibly they were adorned with chains. Possibly it was a practice that endured for millennia.
No word on whether they wore red badges, though.