The Problem


There are about 200 Temporary Staffing firms with over 1000 branch offices registered with the Illinois Department of Labor. Staffing Firms Employed 1,456,200 Workers in Illinois in 2018 (American Staffing Association). A 2017 NESRI report, Temporary Work, Permanent Abuse, found:
•    22% of temp workers reported racial discrimination
•    74% experienced wage theft
•    84% experienced violations of health & safety rights;
•    80% never had a temp job lead to direct hire position;
•    47% filed complaints with DOL or tried to improve working conditions and experienced retaliation
•    6 years was average duration of work within the temp industry.

front pages from Temp Work, Permanent Ab


In a 2018 survey* of Chicagoland women temp workers, 76% of women reported hearing, observing or experiencing violence in the workplace.
From those who described the violent incidents in the workplace,

  • 40% reported verbal abuse

  • 29% reported sexual abuse

  • 19% reported physical abuse

  • 12% reported sexual harassment

Even though violence against women is a highly stigmatized topic, 85% of women said they would join a group that was working to address violence against women. 

*UIC School of Public Health

Sexual harassment voyant beauty prep pro


NESRI'S 2017 report found that Forty-seven percent of surveyed temp workers who had filed a complaint with the Department of Labor or tried to improve wages or working conditions experienced retaliation[1] – similar findings to other studies involving low-wage workers.[2] Unbridled discrimination in hiring and retaliation in the workplace function together to grow and maintain profit margins at the expense of workers who suffer abusive pay and work conditions. As these strategies enable companies to gain market share, they become a virtual requirement of market competition.


[1] Temporary Work, Permanent Abuse

[2] NELP 2008 study

MVP silent protest 2014-10-17 (19).jpg


While CWC and partners have won the strongest protections for temp workers in the U.S., a 2018 survey of temps from five Chicagoland counties found a widespread agency lawbreaking:
•    38% of respondents felt work was being assigned based on race and gender;
•    Among African American respondents 72% were drug-tested, compared to 22% for other workers;
•    70% of respondents reported not receiving an employment notice;
•    75% of workers sent to a worksite, then turned away, did not receive 4 hours minimum “show up pay”;
•    46% feared retaliation if they were to speak out about workplace abuses.



Rampant discriminatory hiring in the temp industry enables companies to create segregated workplaces, which make organizing efforts for better pay and conditions more difficult. Employers have strong incentives to prevent workers from organizing. Organized workers increase labor costs and cut into companies’ profits. Preventing organizing is thus a market advantage.

Photo below says in Spanish "Immediate work, 50 men needed, all shifts available".

Journalist Will Evans' investigation of the temp industry found that companies regularly use temp agencies to shield them from discriminatory hiring practices to acquire workers perceived to be more vulnerable (Reveal News, 2016)

Discrimination, Labor Temps, Inc, Cicero


Since temp agencies take on the workers compensation responsibilities for worker injuries, "temped-out" companies have little financial incentive to invest in safety.

For this reason, temps are more likely to be injured on the job, with an 88% higher rate of falls in manufacturing, a 400% higher rate of exposure to toxins, and higher rates for caught-in and struck-by injuries.  Five of the top 10 Illinois employers with the most employee amputations are temp staffing agencies. Fifty percent of temp jobs are in the most hazardous industries: manufacturing, transportation and material handling, construction, and health care.  


Workers Monthly Assembly, Lake County, I