Publication Date



[Excerpt] Unions seeking to organize the unorganized face increasing numbers of part-time, temporary and leased employees. These contingent workers now make up more than a quarter of the American work force. Of the new work force they are the least organized and perhaps the most difficult to organize. But they are also the group most in need of the protections, benefits and representation that a union can provide.

There have always been some service industries such as hotel, health care and retail, that have maintained a large contingent work force because of long hours and fluctuating demand. Also there have been many workers, especially women, students and elderly workers, who have preferred part-time and temporary employment because of family, health or educational priorities.

Recently, however, American corporations have been replacing permanent full-time workers with temporary, part-time and leased employees for the sole purpose of cutting wages and salaries, increasing management flexibility, and in many cases avoiding unionization. Thus the number of part-time and temporary workers is increasing in every industry and job classification, whether assembly line worker, registered nurse, or computer programmer.


Suggested Citation

Bronfenbrenner, K. (1988). Unions and the contingent work force [Electronic version]. Interface, 17(4), 1-3.

Required Publisher Statement

© AFL-CIO. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.