Temporary technology worker bill before Senate

“The Senate Labor Committee heard testimony on Thursday in Olympia on a bill of rights for temporary technology workers that was introduced to the Washington State Senate on Monday. The legislation would compel more disclosure regarding staffing industry practices, improve safety measures for temp workers, and ban staffing companies from charging temporary workers to cash their paychecks.This bill comes as a result of the explosive growth in the number of workers in Washington state payrolled through staffing companies. According to a recent study by the Washington Employment Security Department, it is estimated that Washington has more than 150,000 temporary workers, which is more than 4 percent of the state’s total workforce.This bill is the result of a collaboration of the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech), Center for a Changing Workforce and the Washington State Labor Council. Its intent is to address abuses witnessed in the increased use of agency workers by Washington state companies.Sen. Darlene Fairley (D-Shoreline) is the bill’s sponsor and more than nine other Senators support the legislation. The bill includes a provision that would mandate full disclosure of agency billing rates.The Right to Know your bill rate is of prime importance to many high-tech workers. The bill would require staffing companies to include a written notification with each payment of wages, showing how much a client company pays the agency for an individual’s work. Many tech workers believe that by knowing an agency’s bill rate, they will be better able to determine the value of their work, and gauge whether or not the staffing company charges a fair markup for the benefits and services provided. The majority of staffing companies vehemently oppose disclosure of agency bill rates. They argue that disclosure of bill rates would hurt industry competitiveness. They contend that many workers would not understand what goes into the bill rates, which would foster suspicion and resentment among contractors. This is not the first year WashTech has advocated such changes. During the last legislative session, the Right to Know bill died in the House Labor committee. Other right to know provisions in this year’s bill include informing workers about any dangerous conditions or the handling of hazardous materials at the worksite.The bill also mandates that agencies track the percentage of long-term and permanent placements at the client companies where the agency has contracts. Staffing companies argue that temporary work is a bridge to full-time employment. This provision would provide information necessary to scrutinize this claim, and workers would be given access to this information upon request. This year’s bill also addresses the issue of charging workers for cashing their paychecks. Labor Ready, a Tacoma based company, places thousands of day laborers at construction sites throughout Washington and the U.S. However, the company charges its employees a fee for cashing their checks at company-run ATMs. The National Building and Construction Trades Council has filed several lawsuits against Labor Ready for charging workers to cash their paychecks at company-run ATMs. This bill would ban the practice. “