Who’s the boss?
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When Jerry Vazquez launched his cleaning business, he was excited. Clients liked him. They left him nice notes, some with smiley faces drawn in. One of them read, “Keep him. He is a great worker.” But for all his good reviews, he was only making about $5 an hour — less than minimum wage.
Thinking like an entrepreneur, Jerry tried to figure out how to improve the situation. He says he tried to find ways to do the work faster, like skipping bathroom breaks or running. But he could only go so fast. He did market research and concluded that his accounts, which were negotiated by Jan-Pro, were often underbid, so he wanted to raise his rates. Jerry says his efforts didn’t go over well with Jan-Pro. He says the company discouraged him from being involved in the negotiating process or talking to customers at all.
As time went on, there were more and more things that Jerry says made him feel like he had little control over a business that he owned. Jerry started talking to other franchisees. The more people Jerry talked to, the more he realized he wasn’t alone. He wanted to fight back.
We’ll dive into some of the big lessons Jerry learned as we explore this thing we used to call employment: what happened to it, why it happened and what this new kind of workforce means for the American dream.
For even more of “The Uncertain Hour,” subscribe to our newsletter! Each week we’ll bring you a note from host Krissy Clark and explain some terms that have come up in our reporting. This week’s word is “franchise.”
Here’s some additional reading and material we used in our research:
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This season of “The Uncertain Hour” tells the unheard stories of real people affected by this thing we once knew as “employment.”
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