Friday, December 14, 2007

Permalancers, Unite!

My take on the Viacom walkout, for The

Viacom, a Fortune 500 media company, had $11.5 billion in revenue last year. It includes the hip, youth-oriented cable networks MTV, VH1, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon. But the cachet of these names on a young college graduate's résumé is not matched by the way the company treats its workers.

Like scores of companies in the media industry and elsewhere, Viacom has increasingly shifted to workers who are not regular, salaried employees--both true freelancers and "permalancers." The term refers to those who may work full-time for several years--with duties, hours, and responsibilities very similar to regular employees--yet who are classified as temporary employees or independent contractors and do not receive the same recognition as regular employees.


Anonymous said...

$11.5 B in revenues does not justify anything. It's profits that would justify your theory of corporate impropriety.

Their profits were a much less impressive $1.5 B. That's a 13% profit margin. Not exactly fat cats exploiting the working class.

Don't get me wrong, I agree with you that employers should take care of their workers. I just think you're making your point in a way that intentionally creates the wrong perception. Something I'm sure they teach you in journalism classes.

James Geluso said...

A 13 percent profit margin is fantastic in most lines of business. It'd be unacceptable in most newspapers, but businesses like grocers and building contractors run razor-thin margins. Certainly having a billion and a half to parcel out to investors means they can trim some of that away for health benefits.

Anonymous said...

I think you're reading into it an argument that's not there. The revenue figure simply gives an idea of the size of the company, which should give an idea of how prevalent these practices are and why we should pay attention to what's going on with the workforce at one company. That's why she talks about the importance of media industry to New York's economy.