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America's history of worker exploitation, Part 2

One really effective way to exploit workers is to employ them as independent contractors, rather than employees. So, no hourly wages, no employee perks like vacation, paid sick leave, or health insurance. This puts all the risk on the IC’s. A prime example of this ploy is multi-level marketing MLM – think Amway, Mary Kay.

Last year, MLM’ s were noted as a $36 billion industry in the U.S. That is a lot of money. But how well did their IC’s do? According to Prnewswire, of the 20 million IC’s, nearly half (47%) lost money and a quarter (27%) made no money. Statistically, that leaves only a 25% chance of an IC making any money at all. The only thing that keeps MLM’s from being considered pyramid scams is that, presumably, the IC's sign on voluntarily.

The latest and “greatest” employee as an independent contractor scheme is the ride-hailing businesses – think Uber and Lyft. In this scheme the IC becomes a one-person taxi company. To make any money, the IC has to be ready to go when called. So the IC can no longer plan his/her workdays: basically, their life is no longer their own.

Unlike the product-selling MTM’s where the IC is meeting with known people, the Ride-hailer IC has to deal with unknowns and potential risks – dead-beats, drunks, robbers. And the only reason these IC’s are not recognized as employees, as they should be, is because the wealthy elite who head these businesses have the funds to lobby against it.

As I said before, if a new way to exploit America’s workers is found, someone will use it.

John H. Terrell


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