[iDC] intro - Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith rsmith at nelp.org
Tue Oct 28 23:58:43 UTC 2014

Hi, all:

I am Rebecca Smith, Deputy Director of the National Employment Law Project.  NELP is a 40+ year old advocacy organization that works with community groups, unions and advocates on policy and litigation that affect low wage workers.  I’ve been with the organization for over ten years, and part of my focus has been on subcontracted work and workers who are (mis)classified as “independent contractors.”

NELP has been a project on the increasing numbers of workers and jobs in the subcontracted economy, and the ways in which major corporations have outsourced jobs, disclaiming the obligations that go with “employer” status and passing those responsibilities to middlepersons or to the workers themselves.  We held a conference last spring in Washington around the release of our report, “Who’s the Boss<http://www.nelp.org/page/content/accountability-outsourced-work/>?,” exploring these schemes in several contexts and highlighting the legal and organizing strategies that are confronting them.

With our team at NELP, I’ve litigated issues around “joint employment” of workers by lead companies and labor brokers, and written a number of reports on precarious employment, including Who’s the Boss report and a set of policy options<http://nelp.3cdn.net/2fedb5ac7a394d7abf_vfm6bexbt.pdf> to go with it; The Big Rig<http://www.nelp.org/page/-/Justice/PovertyPollutionandMisclassification.pdf?nocdn=1> (misclassification of port drayage drivers); Chain of Greed<http://www.nelp.org/page/-/Justice/2012/ChainOfGreed.pdf?nocdn=1>, (on Walmart outsourcing policies); and “Temped Out,”<http://www.nelp.org/page/-/Reports/Temped-Out.pdf?nocdn=1> on jobs in the staffing industry.  We are beginning to look more at job quality in “app-based” labor like for uber and lyft and airbnb, and want to learn more as well about work and workers doing crowdsourced jobs.  Our idea is to enforce existing laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act where possible, look for ways to expand the obligation of lead companies in subcontracted work, creatively use regulation of labor brokers to apply to these new structures, and generally look for opportunities, in conjunction with workers’ organizations, to develop and promote new policies that deliver good quality jobs and a real safety net to all workers.  I look forward to meeting you all in NYC.
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