The matrix of exploitation and temporary employment: Earnings inequality among Inland Southern California’s blue-collar warehouse workers.

Allison, Juliann Emmons, Joel S. Herrera, Jason Struna, and Ellen Reese.

Journal of Labor and Society 21, no. 4 (2018): 533-560.


The “just in time” neoliberal global consumer economy has given rise to logistics or “goods movement” hubs, reshaping regional labor markets near port cities, and increasing the demand for temporary blue-collar workers. This article provides a case study of earnings inequality among nonsupervisory warehouse workers in Inland Southern California, most of whom are Latina/o. Combining insights from labor market segmentation and intersectional feminist theories, we argue that employer discrimination against temps has become a significant axis of workplace inequality that interacts with other social inequalities to segment workers into lower and higher paying positions within a complex “matrix of exploitation.” Our statistical analysis uses data from an original survey of workers as well as the American Community Survey to analyze wages, income, and occupational segregation among Inland Southern California’s blue-collar warehouse workforce. We find that, controlling for other factors, temporary employment status negatively affects hourly wages and annual earnings. Consistent with the expectations of intersectional feminist theory, the hourly wages of immigrant Latinas, and the annual incomes of immigrant Latinas who are naturalized citizens, were significantly lower than those of all other warehouse workers, controlling for the effects of other factors. Immigrant women were also disproportionately employed as temps and in the lowest paid occupation.


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