Temp Workers Right to Know

Temp Workers Demand the "Right to Know"

Legislators Urged to help Fight Abuses by Temp Agencies

Every morning, at the crack of dawn, thousands of workers in communities across the state are picked up by a man in a van. The workers are only told the first name of their driver, and know nothing about where they are headed, the identity of their employer, the type of work they will be asked to perform, what they will be paid or for how long they will be working. Some of these workers will be injured on the job because they have received no training to do the work they're assigned. Others will be abused by their employers.

On June 15, 2005 at 10:30 a.m. a coalition of temporary workers, immigrant community leaders and labor rights activists presented testimonials from temporary workers who were abused, injured and whose rights were violated because they were not provided with basic information about their jobs and their employers. These workers are now demanding that they have an affirmative right to this information before they are shipped off to work.

Reverend Mark Fallon of Catholic Social Services told the story of a member of his congregation whose situation was all too familiar to him. " "A" is a leader of the Nuevo Amanacer charismatic prayer group… I was astounded to hear the bitter and brutal descriptions of his treatment in a local factory that does tie-dyeing for t-shirts and other garments!" said Reverend Fallon. "Any worker with "A"'s qualities who had the status of citizenship would be immediately moved to training for management positions. Yet he, like so many others, spends his working life in fear and uncertainty: For whom do I work? What is the arrangement for overtime pay? Have I paid for protective clothing and/or equipment unwittingly through illegal payroll deductions?"

According to coalition members, there are huge holes in the current state law that present serious challenges to temporary workers. "A temporary agency does not have to reveal to workers where they are being taken to work, the types of duties the workers will be performing, how long they are going to work and how much they will be paid," said Jennifer Huggins, an employment attorney with the Greater Boston Legal Services. "Such lax regulations completely ignores the rights of workers and exposes them to employer abuse."

The coalition, which includes temporary workers, family members, as well as representatives from the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH), Greater Boston Legal Services and several other community and labor groups, urged the state's Committee on Labor and Work Development to pass the Temp. Worker's Right to Know Bill, S1101. The bill requires temporary agencies to provide their workers with basic information about their employer and their job.

"The Temporary Workers Right to Know Bill simply requires that temporary agencies disclose to workers with basic information about their jobs," said Jean Carmel St.-Juste, a health and safety specialist at the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health. "It's so simple and inexpensive – it can fit on one half of a page."

MassCOSH is a non-profit organization representing more than 150,000 young and adult workers, unions, community groups and health and safety advocates. For more information contact MassCOSH at (617) 825-7233.

Contact: Jean Carmel St.-Juste, MassCOSH 857-991-7812
Jennifer Huggins, Greater Boston Legal Services (617) 603-1671