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#269392 - 03/22/14 03:05 PM Changing American workplace
Ardy Offline
veteran

Registered: 12/22/05
Posts: 11656
Loc: San Jose, Ca USA


I just heard some news that IMO is emblematic of the changing American work place.

My employer gets frequent deliveries from a large distributor These arrived in the distributors trucks driven by their reasonably paid drivers.

I just learned that all of these drivers are being laid off. Now deliveries will be done by a contractor. Old drivers can apply for jobs at the contractor. But they are mostly not interested because of the new terms.

Drivers used to get a hourly wage. But now they would be paid per delivery with a mileage component. So if there were fewer deliveries on a day they get less pay. If they are delayed by traffic or at a customer site this is uncompensated. No benefits of course. Bottom line their previously good job has become a daily struggle at much lower pay.

This sort of thing is happening for all sorts of workers. It is not the fault of congress or the president. This is corporate MBA finding ever more clever ways to cut costs to increase profits

Now to be fair. In the case I mentioned this distributor is likely facing competitors like Walmart who have figured out how to streamline their logistics to squeeze out costs. So the traditional business model becomes increasingly non competitive.
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"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."

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#269393 - 03/22/14 04:36 PM Re: Changing American workplace [Re: Ardy]
Jeffery J. Haas Offline
veteran

Registered: 08/03/04
Posts: 10508
Loc: Downey, California
Something tells me that they are still employees, regardless of what the employer CLAIMS they are, and the National Labor Relations Board, now once again functional, has been investigating numerous "independent contractor" situations which seem a little shady.

There's rather settled law that says if you use the company's supplies, tools and/or equipment you're an employee. The IRS even classified an accountant as an employee because she used a construction company's computer at the company's place of business to do their books.

Even more basic than that, the very first test is always:
"Who determines when you show up for work?"

Independent contractors show up when they feel like it, not only in terms of what time, but even in terms of which day.
Employees show up when they're told to show up. Simple as that in many cases.

"The general rule is that an individual is an independent contractor if you, the person for whom the services are performed, have the right to control or direct only the result of the work and NOT the MEANS and METHODS of accomplishing the result."
*That comes directly from the IRS rules.

In my business: (I'm a camera operator and an editor) If they give you a call time...
Yeah, that's pretty much the first test.

With some minor exceptions, almost everyone on a crew who works on shoots has to be on set when the client (producer and director, unit production mgr.)says they do.
Hire a plumber, he will show up Tuesday or maybe Wednesday, some time between 8 AM and noon.
He's definitely a contractor.

A gaffer, art director, DP, editor, soundman, etc will have a 7 AM call Wednesday, and that means they are not contractors.

A truck driver who has to deliver materials within a time frame specified BY the employer, and who suffers a penalty for delivery time errors...sounds like an employee to me, especially if they use a company owned truck OR a company owned trailer.
_________________________
"Our options for change range from basically what we have plus a little more Hayek,
to what we have plus a little more Keynes. Why?"

---Benjamin Bratton

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#269394 - 03/22/14 05:10 PM Re: Changing American workplace [Re: Ardy]
Ardy Offline
veteran

Registered: 12/22/05
Posts: 11656
Loc: San Jose, Ca USA
Not sure of the details

But the distributor has contracted with another company to provide delivery services. Not sure who provides the trucks. Not sure of the exact status of the drivers. Maybe not even the same drivers

San Jose has closed its graffiti dept now uses a contractor

They have contracted out general street sweeping in down town

One of my cust is a mfg. they use staff from a temp service for many production jobs.

Many companies use similar strategies because it reduces hr overheads and makes it easier to adjust labor supply as needed without hiring or firing employees.

There are many other ways to optimize labor costs. Hire younger workers and pay them less. Outsource. Sell off. Parts of the business. Use part time staff. Use temp staffing companies. Force workers to work overtime to avoid hiring new. Staff. Shift to a piece work compensation system. And more....
_________________________

"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."

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#269395 - 03/22/14 08:31 PM Re: Changing American workplace [Re: Ardy]
Jeffery J. Haas Offline
veteran

Registered: 08/03/04
Posts: 10508
Loc: Downey, California
Understood but I am still referring the IRS definitions above, and I suspect that quite a few are getting fast and loose with the definition of "contractor".

Street sweeping: Do they use their own street sweeping vehicles or ones provided by the city?
Are the streets to be swept at a specific time or when the sweeper operators feel like it?

The problem is twofold: Lax enforcement of the definitions of "contractor" vs. "employee" and the fact that we not only don't penalize outsources, we even SUBSIDIZE them with tax breaks.

Nature is enforcing a balance but too many think it's okay to enforce the balance on the backs of taxpayer and the poor. It's unsustainable.
_________________________
"Our options for change range from basically what we have plus a little more Hayek,
to what we have plus a little more Keynes. Why?"

---Benjamin Bratton

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#269396 - 03/23/14 01:01 AM Re: Changing American workplace [Re: Ardy]
Jeffery J. Haas Offline
veteran

Registered: 08/03/04
Posts: 10508
Loc: Downey, California
_________________________
"Our options for change range from basically what we have plus a little more Hayek,
to what we have plus a little more Keynes. Why?"

---Benjamin Bratton

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