The Poverty of Work, published by Haymarket Books, is a recent and extensive study of employment agencies. At our September 1 Sunday Platform, the author of the book, David Van Arsdale, presented key findings from his study and shared his experiences working inside the temp and gig economy through employment agencies. Van Arsdale defined the range of employment agencies that exist in the U.S., explained why they have grown leaps and bounds, and also explained the processes by which agency laborers find work and under what conditions. Further, he addressed the historical evolution of agencies and explained why, when left unregulated, they tend to sell immigrants and the unemployed into rather exploitive employment relations. Lastly, his presentation demonstrated how employment agencies played a critical role in the rise of investment capitalism in the seventeenth century and also the evolution of slavery in North America.
“The class which has the power to rob upon a large scale has also the power to control the government and legalize their robbery.” —Eugene Debs
Dr. David Van Arsdale is Professor of Sociology at Onondaga Community College of the State University of New York. He earned his PhD with distinction from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.