HIGHTOWER: "Contingency" Workers

All kinds of "doublespeak" words have been coined by greedheaded corporate executives trying to cover-up the fact that they are dumping middle-class workers by the millions: "downsizing," "decruiting" and "negative hiring," for just a few examples.Having discarded so many valuable employees, though, corporate performance has been hurt, so the honchos are now bringing-in millions of new workers to replace them -- workers who are paid less, get few if any benefits, and have no long-term future with the company. Instead of calling these folks what they are -- corporate serfs -- the jargoneers have come-up with more doublespeak: "Contingency workers."Sounds impressive, until you realize that it simply means the worker's job is contingent on the daily mood of the big boss, who can dump them without reason or recourse: adios chump.Already, about a fourth of the jobs in our country are filled by temporary and part-time employees, doing everything from secretarial work to airplane maintenance, banking to engineering. Some 30-million of us now wander from job-to-job, hoping there'll be another one after being punted from the last one. Among major corporations, 70 percent now use contingency workers, and the number is growing dramatically as top executives realize "hey, we can hire these throw-away employees and take no responsibility for their well-being."Seventy-five percent of contingency workers make less than $16,000 a year -- almost a poverty wage. Only 39 percent get any paid vacation, only 8 percent get health coverage, only 4 percent get life insurance, only 3 percent get sick-pay and only 2 percent get a retirement plan.What we are experiencing here is an ongoing war against the middle class, a war in which a few privileged executives and investors are profiteering at the expense of the rest of us, destroying the American notion that we are a united nation.Source:"Temporary workers gaining market share, statistics show" by Elena Bianco. New York Times: December 31, 1996.

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