Temporary workers are supposed to be contracted for a short period of time – but companies are increasingly using temp work as a way to circumvent labor standards and exploit workers. Reporters from Capital & Main just revealed one of the worst temp labor exploitation offenders when they investigated Taylor Farms, the world’s largest fresh-cut vegetable producer. California-based Taylor Farms employs hundreds of temp workers, some of whom have been with the company for a decade. But these workers often receive no benefits, are paid minimum wage, can be fired with no notice and face insurmountable obstacles when trying to file for workers’ compensation. And chances are, if you’ve ever eaten at a chain restaurant or shopped at Costco, Target, Walmart or Kroger, you have purchased Taylor Farms’ products.

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Taylor Farms had $1.8 billion dollars in sales in 2012 to companies like Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, McDonalds and Chipotle. The company tries to paint itself as a farm-to-family operation that’s part of the organic, sustainable, healthy world of agriculture. But at least 900 employees at the company are subcontracted workers and two-thirds of those are considered temporary, even if they have been with the company for years.

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The belief that hard work and dedication will be rewarded with fair compensation is no longer part of the American story for temp workers. For a company like Taylor Farms, temp workers are little more than cheap labor for whom they have no responsibility. If an employee wants to file a claim for injuries, wage theft or other complaints, a complicated mess arises regarding who the actual employer on record is (and thus who is responsible for the employee). Temp workers are more likely to live in poverty, earn less and have less job security than a non-temp worker. When they try to report abuse or safety violations, the company and the temp agency that hires the workers try to put the responsibility on the other, creating an environment where workers have little recourse and little protection.

Taylor Farms isn’t the only company that exploits temp workers. About 3.4 million jobs last year came from staffing agencies – a 41 percent increase from 2008. But Taylor Farms is setting the model for employers in retail, agriculture and janitorial businesses to follow, separating the employee and the employer and creating an environment in which employees are expendable and unworthy of respect or fair compensation. In hopes of addressing the issue, Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina) has introduced Bill 1897, which would force companies that rely on temp labor to take responsibility for their laborers, contracted or not.

Via Huffington Post

Lead image via Shutterstock, image via National Farm Worker Ministry