A Job Never Done

November 18, 2014

This past winter, when Flor Correa stood in the snow-covered, wind-whipped parking lot of Fulfillment America, protesting along with dozens of coworkers and MassCOSH labor and community supporters, she had no idea that her calls for justice would lead to a groundbreaking settlement and provide compelling evidence of the need for strong enforcement of the new Temporary Worker Right to Know law.

For years, Correa and her co-workers were certain that the supply company was bilking its employees, using a company-created temporary agency named Job Done in order to steal wages and ignore concerns about safety and harassment. With support from the MassCOSH worker center, Correa and her coworkers have not only forced the company to repay the workers and address other abuses, but have also become powerful spokespeople as the state Labor Department considers regulations for the new Temp Worker law.

“We temp workers have had enough,” said Correa. “When we contacted MassCOSH about Job Done, we felt like we finally had a chance to join together with other workers to fight for justice. “Now together, we are truly making a difference.”
“After a few meetings with Correa and her co-workers, we saw how committed they were to stopping businesses from cheating workers just because they are low-wage,” said MassCOSH Worker Center Organizer Jonny Arevalo. “We decided we would throw all our organizing and legal resources at Fulfillment America and Job Done.”
Fulfillment America’s relationship with the temp agency – created solely to supply Fulfillment with labor - not only defied common fairness, but also collapsed under legal scrutiny.
“This is a classic example of a large company trying to evade the wage laws by relying on a placement agency,” said Steve Churchill, an attorney and partner at Fair Work, P.C., who, along with Tom Smith of Justice at Work, is providing critical legal representation for the workers. “In this case, it’s even more flagrant, because it appears that Fulfillment America created Job Done for this very purpose.”

Facing a lawsuit filed in Middlesex Superior County, damning media coverage, and persistent pressure from workers and their allies, the two businesses chose to settle the case for a sizable sum. However, Correa and her co-workers don’t see their work as over.

With some bad actors like Job Done finding ways around the 2012 Temp Worker Right to Know law, the state is now developing new regulations to help strengthen the legislation to better protect workers.

This past July, the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS) held a public hearing in Boston on its proposed regulations under the Temporary Workers Right to Know Law. At the hearing, a coalition led by temp workers, MassCOSH, Greater Boston Legal Services and other worker centers and labor groups developed a platform of priority recommendations that they felt were critical to strong temp worker regulations. In the packed hearing room, they testified to the importance of the law and the need to make the regulations as strong as possible for Correa and other vulnerable temporary workers. Their recommendations include requiring agencies to post the notice of worker rights in vans used to transport workers, to provide both the job order and the notice of rights poster to workers in their own language, and to provide workers with the right to request and receive a copy of the job order at any point in time.

“Passing the temp law was an amazing step forward for worker rights,” says Arevalo. “However, as this hearing made clear, we still have a lot of work to do to ensure it works as intended. But we could not have a more dedicated group of workers fighting for justice and MassCOSH members and workers can count on us to be there for every opportunity to make the law better."