Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Contract Killers

Of course I mean people who kill contracts.

FedEx Says It Will Abandon Contractor Model in California
WASHINGTON, Sept 21, 2007 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The FedEx Corporation could pay between $26 million to $33 million in severance costs alone for abandoning its illegal contractor model in California, a change announced Thursday by company chief executive Fred Smith.


...California tax authorities, the California Court of Appeal and the National Labor Relations Board among others have all found the contractor model to be illegal....


"This is the beginning of the end for the contractor scam at FedEx Ground," said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. "FedEx pushed past the legal limits and pushed its drivers to fighting back to regain their rights." This major change in company policy means that FedEx is abandoning the contractor model in California but keeping the misclassification practice for the rest of the country.
If I worked the same job as someone else at another company, but I was classified as a contractor, so that I didn't have the same access to benefits, I'd probably be pretty pissed. And it was a possibility for that exact thing to happen to me. When I first started working, I was brought in through a temporary agency. I did the same job as others who'd started the year before, but they were considered employees, and I was decidedly not. At least they called us contractors, and not temps. I was lucky enough to be with an agency that did provide access to benefits and vacation time once you'd worked a certain number of hours, but not everyone has that.

My contracting days ended, though, when the company ended their hiring freeze, and they brought all the people who'd been doing the jobs for 6 months or more in for job interviews. We actually had to sit there and explain why we were right for the job. I went with "I can already train other people to do this according to company procedure". I honestly prefer full employee status, it makes me feel less like a second-hand citizen.

I can see how contractors have their place in the business world. Short term staffing needs, or projects with a specific shelf life are good examples of when you'd bring someone in temporarily. Bringing in contractors to do every day tasks that your company must complete to do their business, like say, driving the trucks that deliver the packages for a delivery company, is an abuse of the system to cost cuts. It smells funny to me, and we now see that it smells funny to the California courts, as well.

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