Summary: Contingent workers include part-time work, independent contractors, self-employed, agency temps, and on-call workers. In this segment of MSNBC's Up with Chris Hayes, Hayes discusses contingent work with his four guests from academia and worker advocate groups. After a brief introduction, the video focuses on contingent labor in the economy today (2:16-10:59) and moves to a more critical conversation of possible alternative worker organizations (11:00-25:24). It notes that contingent workers comprise 30% of the American workforce, which has increased dramatically in the last 10-20 years. It includes both low-skilled labor (e.g. janitors) and high-skilled labor (professors, computer engineers), who usually do not receive overtime pay, unemployment benefits, health care, etc. While some workers might prefer this relationship, it is mostly capitalists that benefit from this arrangement and the guests discuss the role of power in shaping contingent labor. They argue that business owners strive to maintain a flexible workforce, avoid providing benefits, and workers have much less bargaining power (through unions) today and have little control over this relationship. In the second portion of the segment, the guests discuss the desirability of this model and possible alternatives, especially worker cooperatives. The guests differ on if they see an inherent tension between employers and contingent labor, and viewers may reflect on how they believe work should be organized. If you prefer alternative arrangements, how would we get there? How does contingent labor fit into Marx's theory of capitalism and worker resistance?
Submitted By: Paul Dean