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High Rates of Wage Theft, Retaliation and Unsafe Conditions In Illinois Staffing Agency Industry

Local Groups Are Demanding Reforms for Temporary Staffing Agency Workers, Many of Whom Are Essential Workers for Brands like Google, Amazon, Walmart and More


Chicago– “Temp” workers have kept Illinois running throughout the pandemic and as the dangerous Omicron variant has spread throughout workplaces. Employed through temporary staffing agencies, a workforce largely made up of people of color, many of whom are immigrant women, has worked in manufacturing, logistics and throughout the food supply chain, so that others might safely stay at home.


While putting themselves and their families at risk, temp workers endure rampant wage theft, “perma-temping,” employer retaliation, and unsafe workplace conditions, and want to organize for change, according to “Temp Workers Demand Good Jobs.” This new report is based on an unprecedented national surveying effort by groups across the country including the Chicago Workers Collaborative, National Employment Law Project, and Temp Worker Justice.


A total of 1,337 temp workers from 47 U.S. states were surveyed and interviewed, including more than 200 from Illinois. They were employed by staffing agencies including Aerotek, Adecco, Kelly Services, and Manpower Group, and worked for corporations including Amazon, Walmart, Google, and Tyson Foods, and in public works within local government, at hospitals, and in public schools.


Key Findings Nationwide & in Illinois:

  • Wage theft: 24% reported that, while working as a temp, their employers have stolen wages

  • Employer retaliation: 71% said that they experienced some form of retaliation for raising workplace issues, including those about pay and safety

  • “Perma-temping”: 35% nationally and 43% in Illinois reported that their current “temp” assignment had lasted over one year

  • Deception: 72% nationally and 83% of temp workers in Illinois were misled by a staffing agency about some aspect of their job, including pay or benefits they would receive, and the likelihood they would be converted from a temp to a permanent hire - showing blatant non-compliance with Illinois’ legal requirements that staffing agencies provide written employment notices to all temp workers with the terms and conditions of their work.


Temp workers are calling on policymakers to ensure that they receive equal pay for equal work, that both staffing agencies, and the companies that hire them, are responsible for compliance with labor and workplace safety standards, that temp workers have opportunities to transition to permanent employment, and that temp workers can report unfair or illegal working conditions without fear of retaliation.


“The reality is temporary essential workers have kept our economy running during COVID, they deserve better than stolen wages, discrimination and unsafe conditions,” said Jose Frausto, Leadership and Advocacy Manager of the Chicago Workers Collaborative. “This report release shows we need major reforms.”


Media Contact: Roberto Clack, Deputy Director, Chicago Workers Collaborative, roberto@chicagoworkerscollaborative.org, 312.450.1972 Dave DeSario, Executive Director, Temp Workers Justice, dave@tempworkerjustice.org, 631.374.6458




Founded in 2000, the Chicago Workers' Collaborative promotes the creation of stable, living wage jobs with race, class, and gender equity for precarious workers in the Chicago region.


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