Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wave of the Future: Everyone's a Temp

With the huge waves of unemployment that have struck the American economy these past few years, and the ongoing off-shoring of jobs overseas, the next logical step in destroying the already frayed job security of American workers would be to make everyone reapply for their own jobs every few years. In other words, make everyone a temp. Sadly, as reported by NPR this week, the idea is already being test driven by an Atlantic City casino:
A new casino set to open in Atlantic City, N.J., has announced it will set term limits for its front-line staff. When employees' terms run out, they'll have to go through the hiring process again. The casino says the policy will keep its service fresh. Others say the company is taking advantage of a tough job market.

From bellhops to dealers, employees of the new casino — called Revel — will be hired for terms from four to six years. After that, they have to reapply for their jobs and compete against other candidates.

Revel declined to make anyone available for an interview. In a written statement, the company asserts that its employment policy will help it "attract the most highly professional people who are inspired by a highly competitive work environment."

But it's an unusual way to go. Many who work in employment law or advocacy say they've never heard of anything like this before.

"What they've done here is set up a system that puts their good performers through a gauntlet of having to compete with people who have no record of performance," says Alice Ballard, a prominent employment attorney who works out of Philadelphia.
The motivation for the company to do such a thing really isn't so hard to spot:
Ballard thinks that "other reason" is probably age. To her, this reapplication process looks like a low-profile way for the casino to regularly weed out older employees.
And thus hold down wages in addition to not having to pay the higher medical costs that inevitably come with a more experienced work force.

At least one worker recognized what a social disaster it would be if this practice every became widespread:
"How can you buy a car if you don't know you're going to have a job?" Payne asks. "You want to refinance your home; you want to buy a home. I mean, these have always been decent jobs, good-paying jobs, sustaining jobs. But my concern is, you get this job — and then you have no job security."
But nevertheless, he expects there will be plenty of applicants:
Payne, a union member, says the new jobs aren't what were promised when gaming came to Atlantic City.

But a lot of people laid off from casinos in Atlantic City in the past few years still haven't found work. He says that even with Revel's tough hiring policy, those people probably will apply.
There's a cliched phrase in sportscasting that is appropriate here: "The Future is NOW!" In that spirit, welcome to the new dystopia.

Bonus: The trouble isn't busing in from out of state's already in Atlantic City


  1. The middle class has been running just to stand still for a while now. This progression in job insecurity makes me think of someone off screen with a bullhorn shouting "Ok people, lets step up that run to a sprint!!"

    - Bill From Pennsylvania

    1. Hey Bill, good to hear from you!

      Arbeit macht frei, don't you know. :(

  2. America has always had the choice to place either money or people at the fore. We have always chosen money. So, we measure standard of living and GDP, and we use temp workers on our way to slave labor. These are money-oriented, profit-oriented strategies. They are economically efficient.

    If people were our priority, we would measure quality of life, and we would do something like cap the working week at 30 hours to ensure greater employment (we would also enact a number of trade barriers, especially those that allow for the free flow of capital out of the country, in order to protect our jobs). This is economically inefficient, but might be both intelligent and humane.

    Money or people? We chose money. And the beat goes on...

    1. Sadly, that's a very good way to put it.

  3. I experienced a job/work/career crisis beginning in 2003 working temp jobs/unemployed etc.
    Thank the gods I survived and landed on my feet. I wanted to kill myself and be done with the nightmare - panic attacks, depression etc.
    Now, when I read of all the layoffs, I imagine many of those people experiencing something close to what I experienced. My heart and soul [slavic of course] aches for every one of them and I wish I could do something to help - beyond my limited world.
    Unbridled Capitalism is the scourge of Planet Earth. The game is to keep the costs as low as you can get away with and still have producers and a product with a price as high as you can get away with and the earnings go right to the owners, the shareholders and not those who created the product. This all carried out by the kapos/upper management
    ...and a government with a sick excuse for a "safety net". How many weeks of unemployment? and then what?
    the system - especially in times of retraction - hurts the many innocent people.
    One less aircraft carrier would fund how much in social services for those in a jam? Enough of my venting & If I were king...Thanks...