On the Job, Off the Books: Organizing Against Worker Misclassification in the Neoliberal Era
Worker misclassification is a form of precarious employment in which employers illegally designate their employees as 'independent contractors' to cut labor costs. Non-standard employment arrangements and the emergence of the misclassification problem are expressions of neoliberal economic reform and attendant shifts in managerial strategy. Although scholars and government statisticians have documented the prevalence of worker misclassification, extant research on labor-organizing campaigns in response to this practice is lacking. This paper presents case studies of two successful organizing campaigns against worker misclassification: (1) a United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBCJA) effort in the Northeastern construction industry and (2) a Teamsters campaign focused on the West Coast port trucking industry. Both campaigns employ similar frames highlighting competition, free markets, and the necessity of industrial change to achieve these ideals. We conclude with a discussion of the prospects and limitations of these organizing strategies given the countervailing political and economic headwinds posed by neoliberal restructuring.
Slone, Michael R., Timothy Black, and Alicia Smith-Tran. 2023. "On the Job, Off the Books: Organizing Against Worker Misclassification in the Neoliberal Era." Critical Sociology 49(1): 39-57.
Labor, Neoliberalism, Precarious work, Sociology