Race to the Bottom: How Low-Road Subcontracting Affects Working Conditions in California’s Property Services Industry

Source: Sara Hinkley, Annette Bernhardt and Sarah Thomason, University of California – Berkeley, Center for Labor Research and Education, March 8, 2016

From the press release:
The increased subcontracting of work for janitors and security guards in California over the past 30 years has led to lower wages, fewer benefits, higher rates of part-time work, inferior working conditions and illegal labor practices for those employees, according to a study released today by UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education.

The report, “Race to the Bottom: How Low-Road Subcontracting Affects Working Conditions in California’s Property Services Industry,” says the share of janitors in California hired by contractors more than doubled from 1980 to 2014, and the share of subcontracted security guards rose by 50 percent as office buildings, retailers, high-tech companies, residential developments and other industries moved to cut costs by outsourcing cleanup as well as security. ….
….The report — the first to cover these services over a 30-year period — includes these key findings about janitorial and security service jobs in California:
– From 2012 to 2014 contracted janitors earned 20 percent less than non-contracted janitors ($10.31 an hour compared to $12.85 an hour), and contracted security workers made 18 percent less than their non-contracted counterparts ($11.91 an hour compared to $14.48 an hour).
– Some 45 percent of contracted janitors and 32 percent of contracted security guards had no health insurance coverage in 2012-2014.
– Fifty-three percent of contracted janitors and 36 percent of contracted security guards live with families that fall below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and 48 percent of workers in both categories have at least one family member receiving public assistance. Annual costs to California taxpayers averaged $228 million between 2009 and 2014.
– Seventy-five percent of contracted janitors were born outside of the United States; Latinos make up 82 percent of the contracted janitorial workforce compared to 37 percent of the overall workforce. Meanwhile, black security guards account for 23 percent of contracted employees in that field, but just 6 percent of the overall workforce.
– Women hold 45 percent of the janitorial jobs; women janitors are at risk of sexual harassment and violence in what are often isolated workplaces…..
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