As we emerge from this pandemic, we must reimagine New York City’s workforce. We need to hire local residents and increase opportunities for communities of color across Queens and the rest of the boroughs. But the local hiring must involve more than dead-end, low-wage jobs.
That is why I was shocked to learn that some prominent real estate developers are using a new breed of predatory companies, known as body shops. Such firms specialize in brokering the labor of formerly incarcerated people of color.
Release on state parole puts a person at risk of re-imprisonment for not staying consistently employed. The so-called body shops use that fact to get employees to accept wages barely above minimum wage while usually charging clients for their services at least double that. Body shops therefore profit from an exploitation discount: the gap between a fair and unfairly coerced wage.