Both Baca and Childs — also an ex-felon — said that fundraisers’ calls were monitored twice a day by a company supervisor in Minnesota. But once those two monitored calls had occurred, on-site supervisors would tell callers, as Baca put it, “do what you have to do to get a pledge.” That directive led to an even looser approach from callers. Baca said she had heard some tell potential donors, falsely, that they’d receive a signed picture of President Bush — a draw in some circles, perhaps — if they contributed.
Callers were told not to end the call without extracting a pledge. “The only way we could let someone go,” Baca explained, “is if they had a family member die, if they had a doctor’s appointment — or if they were a Democrat.”
As described by the former employees, working at FLS is tough and unrewarding. Many spend an eight hour day, with a few short breaks, making fundraising calls, and work every other Saturday. Baca’s wages were typical: fundraisers start out at $10 per hour, validators (the fundraisers’ nominal “supervisors”) at $9.
Employees are eligible for health benefits only after a year of service. And because turnover is so high, thanks to the grueling nature of the work, few workers last that long. Jones said it was ironic that FLS workers were sometimes asked to pitch potential donors on the evils of health-care reform. “Most of us would want health-care,” he said.
The Phoenix office itself is poorly maintained, according to Jones and Childs. Office furniture was falling apart, and “the bathroom was always nasty and gross,” Childs said. “Working conditions were pretty bad.”
Still, business for FLS Connect seems to be as brisk as ever. According to the firm’s website, it’s currently hiring “telephone service representatives” for its Phoenix and Minnesota offices: “High School diploma and/or some college a plus. No experience necessary.”