The Full-Time Job Is Dead
Kevin Maney

The only valid argument against full-time employment in this entire article is the possibility of being laid off and/or fired. That possibility exists because private sector unions have been demonized (unfairly in most cases) and employees are encouraged to turn on each other instead of banding together.

As one who has worked many “micro-careers” since 2008, I cannot disagree with the author more on the solution to the problem. The solution is not becoming a contractor competing for the tidbits tossed your way. The solution is to collectively expect that employers in need of employees’ services treat them like employees, with the respect and benefits due them.

There are real life examples of employers who do this. Costco hasn’t suffered for paying their employees a living wage and providing benefits. They still turn a hefty profit. There are others as well — but in the model you describe, profit will always be king.

I recommend you read this article about what is happening right now to stagehands who work those big concerts that cost upwards of three figures for tickets.

In particular, pay attention to the structure of the employment relationship with LiveNation (a subsidiary of Comcast, by the way), where they pay stagehands as “contractors” but still dictate their hours and their work environment, while requiring those underpaid contractors to supply their own hard hats and other safety equipment.

Under your model, you’d expect contract code writers to supply their own computers, security software, and backup capability, while trusting them to maintain confidentiality agreements and security protocols.

If I may be accorded the benefit of 20/20 hindsight over the past 35 years for just a moment, I can illustrate what a difference it makes to stand with your fellow workers and negotiate ways around the dangers of a 40-hour a week job. I chose to be a retirement plan consultant acting as a 3rd party to small employers with new retirement plans under the just-passed Employees Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). It was technical work and required continuing education, but the perks were that I worked in nice offices and had lots of interesting clients.

A relative chose to work for what was then Pacific Telephone, which is now AT&T. She was a union member from the day she was hired, worked her 40 hours, raised her kids, always had health insurance and retired three years ago when the company downsized with a topped-up pension and health insurance until she’s eligible for Medicare. They are comfortably middle-class. Not wealthy, not poor.

I, on the other hand, ended up leaving my profession during the Great Recession when small employers cut those 401K plans down to nothing and pension plans were gone more or less across the board. No pension, and no health insurance. When my son got sick in 2009, we faced the probability that we could well lose everything we’d saved and our house. (We didn’t, because the Affordable Care Act passed in the nick of time).

Don’t ever assume life won’t downsize contractors out of business. The only difference between me and my relative is that her full-time job came with the security that she could survive without it if it came to that.

Sorry for the length, but the original post had such bad advice I thought a counterpoint was needed.

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