I recently took exception to a staffing story by The Chicago Reporter, an investigative news organization that publishes a website and bimonthly magazine examining the political, economic and social issues of metro Chicago with a focus on race and poverty. I thought the story unfairly and inaccurately slammed and impugned the entire staffing industry. You can read it for yourself here. So I wrote an email to the reporter who authored the piece, and then published that on Staffing Talk. You can read my post here.
Here’s an update. I did receive a reply from the reporter, María Inés Zamudio, who said the story was intended as a feature, and not an investigative piece. She also stated her primary source for standard staffing industry practices came from union organizers who work for the Chicago Workers Collaborative, an Illinois non-profit organization that promotes full employment and equality for the lowest wage earners, primarily temp staffing workers. The banner on the home page of their website says they are “Uniting low-wage and temporary workers to bring down barriers for full employment and equality.”
To begin with, using single sources to form the basis for sweeping generalizations is never a good idea. Bias, political agendas and ulterior motives are all allowed to come into play, sometimes prominently.
Just reading those couple of lines about the Chicago Workers Collaborative’s mission and reason for being should give a journalist a pause about the organization’s ability to present a fair and balanced picture of the staffing business.
We appreciate the many comments Staffing Talk readers wrote about the story, including providing details on the Illinois Day Labor Services Act, the legislation responsible for regulating staffing companies in that state.
I also privately received several emails thanking me for our response to the original story, and for “sticking up for the staffing industry.”
While I do appreciate the response from María, it does nothing to assuage my original contention that the story was sloppy at best.
Here is her unedited email.
Thank you for taking the time to send me this e-mail. I apologize for not replying sooner but I’ve been swamped.
To follow up on your comments, I have been interviewing and spending time at several worker centers over the last several months while working on other stories and these practices came to my attention.
That’s how I was able to gather the information about some of the practices within the staffing industry. For this particular story, most of the information came from labor organizers who work for the Chicago Worker’s Collaborative.
In fact, today the same organization held a press conference to talk about this very issue.
This story is a feature – not an investigation into the staffing industry.
It was not intended to impugn the entire industry, but merely highlight some practices that go on in the part of the staffing business that touches our interest in immigration.
Please feel free to add a comment to the story on our site.
Maria Ines Zamudio
The Chicago Reporter