Why the Fissured Workplace Is Bigger Than the
Contingent Worker Survey Suggests

By David Weil, 5.14.19. Originally appeared in the The American Prospect as part of a section entitled “The Future of Real Jobs: A Prospect Roundtable,” with contributions by Robert Kuttner, John Schmitt, Heidi Shierholz, and David Weil. 

When I was working on the manuscript for The Fissured Workplace, I sought a term to capture the profound business restructuring that was emerging in a variety of industries. Those changes included but were not limited to offshoring, outsourcing, and the use of staffing agencies that led to work characterized by low wages, noncompliance with core workplace statutes, limited benefits, more contingent employment, greater risk exposure, and weakened bargaining leverage for workers in general. I purposefully chose a somewhat obscure geologic term as the metaphor for this fragmentation because I wanted to highlight that the practices associated with fissuring arose from a more fundamental change in how businesses structured themselves beginning in the 1980s.

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David Weil is Dean and Professor at Brandeis University’s Heller School of Social Policy and Management. He served as US Wage and Hour Administrator at the Department of Labor during the last three years of the Obama administration. He is a leading international expert on workplace and labor market policy and was the Peter and Deborah Wexler Professor of Management at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business before coming to Brandeis. The materials on this site arise from analysis contained in The Fissured Workplace and a growing body of research regarding the fundamental restructuring of employment and its impacts on workers and businesses. It also discusses approaches to dealing with the fissured workplace developed during the Obama administration as well as new ideas and efforts being discussed and undertaken today. 


“Who's in charge at DOL?,” by Rebbecca Rainey, POLITICO, 5.29.19. Read.

“Building Better Workplaces: A Discussion at the Jewish Vocational Services Economic Opportunity Forum,” with Aron Ain (CEO of Kronos) and David Weil. 5.15.19. Watch.

“Human error? Stop blaming workers for their own deaths,” by Marissa Baker,
Noah Seixas and Trevor Peckham, The Seattle Times, 5.9.19. Read

“Dean Weil named to National Academies Committee on Contingent Work and Alternate Work Arrangement,” Brandeis University website, 5.9.19. Read.

“Does the Gig Economy Expose Workers to Sexual Harassment?” Interview with David Weil. Institute for New Economic Thinking, 5.8.19. Listen.

“Labor Dept. Says Workers at a Gig Company Are Contractors,” by Noam Scheiber, The New York Times, 4.29.19. Read the article. 


“Recognizing the ‘Present of Work’ in Setting Future Workplace Policies,”   The American Prospect as part of a section entitled “The Future of Real Jobs: Part 2,” with contributions by Steven Greenhouse, Larry Mishel, Katherine Stone, and David Weil. Read.

“The Future of Real Jobs: A Prospect Roundtable,” by Robert Kuttner, John Schmitt, Heidi Shierholz, and David Weil, The American Prospect, 5.14.19. Read.

“Ratcheting Up Workplace Protections,” by David Weil, 4.1.19. The University of Pennsylvania Regulatory Review. Read

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