Michael Grabell

Investigative Reporter - ProPublica

Michael Grabell is an investigative reporter for ProPublica, a nonprofit journalism organization dedicated to in-depth stories in the public interest. He has done more writing and research on the temporary staffing industry than any other reporter in the US. His groundbreaking study on temp worker injury rates is the most extensive ever undertaken, and has filled a void left by the inaction of the federal government and the staffing industry. Outside of work, Michael is an award-winning poet.


Barbara Rahke

National Council on Occupational Safety & Health

Barbara Rahke is the President of the Board of the National Council for Occupational Safety & Health (COSH) and is the Executive Director of their Philadelphia-area office, PHILAPOSH, the oldest continuously running COSH worker safety organization in the country. She is deeply committed to the families who have lost loved ones on the job, bringing them together and honoring workers who have been killed through Workers’ Memorial Day programs. Not long out of high school, Barbara was working as a secretary at a university when she realized the need to organize within her workplace for better safety and health conditions. She has spent her entire career building on her early experience as she advocates for workers, educates to keep them safe, and works to improve legislation.


George Gonos

Florida International University Center for Labor Research

George Gonos is a professor at Florida International University’s Center for Labor Research and Studies. He first encountered abuses within the staffing industry as a community organizer and activist in the 1980’s. George’s academic research paved the way for the modern study of the temporary staffing industry. His work has been instrumental in understanding the legal history, alternatives to the current model of agency employment, and has been referenced in more than 100 other articles and books on the subject. George grew up in the “the most industrial town in America” and was shaped by his father’s experience as, what his employer called, an “unskilled” worker.


Javier Hernandez

Organizer - PHILAPOSH

Javier Garcia Hernandez came to the US as a teenager with his uncle. He was a laborer in fields, on farms, and on construction sites before working his way up to construction foreman and earning an Ivy League college degree. His uncle, who worked on large industrial demolitions, returned to Mexico after developing a chronic pain in his side. The pain turned out to be lung cancer, and Javier’s uncle died just a few months after returning home. The loss motivated Javier’s work as a safety organizer and advocate. He recently testified in front of Congress on improving OSHA standards related to silica, a chemical compound that is breathed in on many construction sites and thought by many to have serious health consequences. Javier is organizing and is currently running a community-based labor organization that is working to cut out staffing agencies and to keep workers safe.

 


Derek Snook

President - IES Labor Services

Derek Snook voluntarily moved into transitional housing for the homeless for a year in order to “walk a mile,” putting his religious convictions into practice. While living that life, he experienced some of worst of the staffing industry as a laborer employed by temp agencies. Derek and his friend Pete created In Every Story (IES) Labor Services with the hope of doing better for businesses and for temp workers. Along with a more personal approach, IES provides a savings plan for its workers that matches their contributions and helps lower-wage workers get ahead.  IES has one location in Charleston, SC, but is looking to expand in South Carolina and the US in the future.