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Who’s the Boss?

Big companies used to employ lots of people. Today, many big companies work with networks of small companies that do the employing for them: McDonald’s doesn’t employ the teenager who flips your burger; a franchise owner does. Verizon doesn’t employ the guy who maintains your nearest cell phone tower; a subcontractor does. Walmart doesn’t employ the woman who packs your online order at its distribution center; a staffing company does. (And the staffing company wasn’t hired by Walmart; it was hired by the third-party logistics company that was hired by Walmart.)

In the next decade, says Professor of Markets, Public Policy & Law David Weil, this trend toward decentralization of employment will continue, and we’ll need to rethink our labor laws to better balance the business benefits of decentralization with the costs they impose on working people.