Manual Labor

Labor Ready

Labor Ready, Inc., based in Tacoma, Washington, is the United States' largest provider of temporary manual labor to the construction industry, other light industry, and small businesses. Its shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol TBI.

Founded in 1989 in Kent, Washington by Glenn Welstad and two partners, Labor Ready now has over 800 offices in every state, Puerto Rico, Canada, and the U.K. In recent years it has also grown through the acquisition of two companies, CLP Resources and Spartan Staffing.

Workers are paid daily by check. A fee of up to $1.99 is charged if a worker elects to be paid in cash. The fee is actually for $1.00, but since the cash is dispersed from a machine the excess change is part of the fee, so one can pay anywhere from $1.00 to $1.99 depending on deductions and pay rate. The cash option is available in all states except New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Texas, Arizona. Workers have access to safety equipment but are charged a fee if they are not returned. A worker can supply his or her own safety equipment. Workers who do not have transportation to jobs are also provided transportation at a fee which can range from from 2.50 to 3.50 each way. This amount is different from branch to branch. Workers are encouraged to wait on site for work that may become available, though this waiting is uncompensated.

Workers often line up outside of a branch before it opens, which is typically at 5:30 AM. Depending on the location of the office and the day of the week, anywhere from zero to roughly one hundred workers can be dispatched daily.

Labor Ready argues that it benefits society by providing work to individuals who otherwise may not have been able to get a job. The company also claims that most of the jobs performed by its workers are temporary positions and that no opportunities for full time employees are lost. Labor Ready does not provide any training beyond a safety test administered when the worker signs up and has a high rate of injury owing to the company's niche position as a provider of labor for dangerous and dirty jobs. Company records indicate around 10,000 workers (roughly 1.6% of its claimed more than 600,000 workers) are injured each year on the job. According to a 2002 report by the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, Labor Ready’s rate of injury is three times the national average, with 25 out of every 100 Labor Ready employees facing injury annually. Labor Ready uses only legal residents of the countries in which their branches are based. Trade unions have accused Labor Ready of mistreatment and deceptive practices.

Labor Ready, Inc. has seen its share of problems in other counties. For a time it was one of the worst temporary agencies with respect to workers and their conditions. Labor Ready charges employers wages, workers compensation and a try to maintain a 30-35% margin, and fees levied against workers, for equipment purchased and transportation to and from jobs, have sometimes brought the total pay received to a level less than minimum wage. Labor Ready has also come under fire for misclassifying workers (for example, as clerical rather than construction), which has resulted in the company paying less money (and in some states, nothing at all) into state workers' compensation funds than would otherwise be required, a great deal of this is due to the lack of training on office staff in dealing with proper classifications needed. It has also been alleged that this conduct is systematic and intentional.

There have been numerous claims in Canada filed with the WSIB as well as local agencies. The Mississauga, ON outlet was found guilty of violations in 2004 and its mismanagement almost led to a revolt by a group of workers within that local agency.

In their defense, In 2003, Labor Ready was selected by the Department of Labor, which commended the company as a model for the temporary employment industry, as the first participant in its VIP program in which the employer and the DOL work closely and productively to ensure compliance with all wage and hour rules. Also, a great deal of the complaints come from an uneducated workforce who merely wishes to show up and receive a great deal of pay for very little effort and must be reminded from time to time that they are not required to remain there that they are more than free to go anywhere else to work. They as American citizens are exercising their right to choose where they wish to work.

Labor Ready's I-9 Documentation Program has been Recognized by Immigration and Customs Enforcement with IMAGE Partnership. To become a partner, Labor Ready passed a series of rigorous interviews and audits by ICE representatives. The company also launched an innovative I-9 training program this spring.

Name change

As of December 18, 2007, Labor Ready, Inc. changed it's name to TrueBlue, Inc. It changed its corporate headquarters web address to http://www.trueblueinc.com, and its stock ticker to TBI. Labor Ready remains TrueBlue's flagship brand.

Other brands under TrueBlue include CLP, Spartan Staffing, PlaneTechs, BusTechs, TLC (Transportation Logistics Company), and Personal Management, Inc. Spartan Staffing is one of the largest specialized providers of light industrial temporary workers in the southeastern and southern United States, providing workers for long and short term assignments. CLP provides skilled tradespeople for the construction and facilities industries.

References

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