Temporary employment may pose undesirable working conditions

Nov. 17, 2014

Eleanor Skelton
[email protected]

Students often seek out temporary or part-time employment between a full course load to pay bills or for some extra cash.

Flyers with pull tabs asking students to sell knives or make commission-based sales calls have peppered the bulletin boards in the University Center and most classroom buildings.

Just before the election, Work for Progress recruiters talked to students around the shuttle and city bus stops and between the University Center and Centennial Hall, asking potential employees to list their contact information on clipboards.

The recruiter’s handouts offered $14-17 an hour to canvass and promote Mark Udall for Senator, tempting compensation for students.

Racquel Lintner, UCCS Psychology alumna, was employed with Work for Progress during the election season, working three days, one day for training and two days of canvassing.

“The office environment was professional and friendly and fun, but afterward honestly I couldn’t handle the walking for five hours straight,” she said. “But the pay was really good.”

Lintner described the typical workflow.

After a group meeting at the office, she said, “you would meet up with your group, you would get in a car, you would go somewhere for lunch within the first hour so you would have a half hour lunch like you are supposed to legally.”

Then the teams’ canvassing started. “You would be dropped off in your area, and you would [work] for five hours straight, so you would be knocking and canvassing on doors for five hours,” Lintner said.

“We were technically allowed a 10 minute break, but you are out there in a neighborhood. So you can sit down, but as far as where to go to the bathroom, there’s not really a place to.”

One evening, Lintner used a portable toilet while working in a neighborhood still under construction.

Ashley Kavanaugh, Pikes Peak Community College student, worked with Lintner.

Kavanaugh said she blacked out while canvassing. Kavanaugh explained a supervisor, Virginia Shannon, instructed her recruiter, Devon, via text message not to assist her after she passed out.

“She said don’t help her, she needs to do it by herself,” Kavanaugh said. “[Devon] helped me for two streets.”

Lintner and Kavanaugh expected to receive their paychecks after the election, but had not received them at the time of publication.

Assistant director for Student Employment Shannon Cable has seen scams that target student employment sites.

“We mostly see scammers targeting student employment sites with positions that allow a scammer to use another person to cash fraudulent checks or require the student to pay some sort of upfront cost,” Cable said in an email.

“We encourage our students to be aware of this possibility while they are searching for positions and use their best judgment as they apply.”

Cable said although the university is not held liable for off-campus employment offers, the Office of Student Employment does attempt to check legitimacy of job postings.

“If a student ever feels they have become a victim of a scam they should contact Public Safety to report the scam to see if the scammer can be pursued,” she said.

Cable commented that Work for Progress has posted on SEAN’s Place before, last in 2008, and that there have been no issues reported. She said she is willing to meet with any concerned students.

Chris Eggleston, recruiter at Front Range Staffing, has 13 years of experience in temporary staffing. Front Range Staffing verifies an employers credit before seeking applicants, protecting workers, according to Eggleston.

He estimates less than 10 percent of people contacting his office are college students.

Ellie Conaty, Work for Progress recruiter, explained that most employees are under media restriction, and suggested a supervisor be contacted.

Peter Melye, one of the supervisors at Work for Progress, declined to comment.

Virginia Shannon and Ellen Montgomery, Work for Progress administrators, did not respond to requests for interviews.