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The gig is up on 21st-century exploitation

Rebecca Dixon


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Rebecca Dixon is the chief executive officer of the National Employment Law Project.

Today’s app-based or “gig” economy is frequently dressed up in talk about “modern innovation” and the “2 1st century of work.” This facade is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Precarious, detachment work is nothing new — we’ve ever had professions that are low-paying, insecure and dismissed as “unskilled.” Due to systemic racism and a historically exploitative economy, employees of emblazon have always been, and continue to be, heavily concentrated in the most exploitative industries.

The only difference is that today, firms like Uber, DoorDash and Instacart claim they don’t have to play by the rules because they use digital apps to manage their workforce. Even as many of these tech heavyweights remain unprofitable, they have been allowed for far too long to evade responsibility for providing safe and exactly working conditions where craftsmen can prosper on and off the job.

Even as many of these tech whales remain unprofitable, they have been allowed for far too long to evade responsibility for providing safe and just working conditions where works can prosper on and off the job.

Workers’ rights in the so-called gig economy are often situated as a modern question. But when we think about the problems faced by gig and app-based workers, who are predominantly people of color, we must learn from the past in order to move forward to a simply economy.

The federal government has long failed to address widespread work exploitation. Since the passage of the National Labor Relations Act, enterprises like agricultural and domestic work, which were largely performed by craftsmen of colour, were carved out of labor rights and protections. The “independent contractors” of today, who are largely workers of emblazon, fall into this same category of workers who have been excluded from labor principles. Combined, Black and Latinx workers even out less than 29% of the nation’s total workforce, but they comprise virtually 42% of works for app-based companies.

Gig fellowships argue that the moves, give people, independent contractors and other workers who build their businesses, make direction from them and whose pay they set are millions of tiny industries that do not need baseline benefits and protections. They do this in order to shield themselves from were responsible for their frontline workforce. Business then avoid paying basic penalties like a minimum wages, healthcare, paid sick leave, compensation coverage and a litany of other crucial interests for their employees. For countless works, these conditions only serve to proliferate inequality nationwide and eventually supported a deep flawed economy built upon worker exploitation and suffering.

App-based companionships are the face of a greater, malevolent veer. Over the last four decades, federal programs had significantly eroded the bargaining power of workers and converged more superpower in the handwritings of corporations and those who previously have substantial prosperity and strength. This has continued and worsened the ethnic wage and rich divergences and contributed to the ever-increasing decline of working conditions for too many.

It’s clear that, in order to build an economy that works for all people, “gig” and app-based companies cannot be allowed to exploit their workers under the guise of “innovation.” These firms claim their workers want to remain independent contractors, but what workers want is good pay, job security, flexibility and full the rights in federal regulations. This is a reasonable and just ask — and necessary to close generational gender and racial wealth gaps.

App-based fellowships are raining significant resources into promoting government policies that prop up their worker exploitation model. Uber, Lyft, DoorDash Instacart and other app-based business are vigorously peddling misinformation in nation legislatures, city councils and federal roles. Elected supervisors at all levels need to recognize these policies for what they are — corporate efforts to rewrite the laws to benefit them — and reject the corporate interests behind the policies that carve out craftsmen from universal protections.

Congress must also reject exclusions that fasten people of color out of basic engaging armours and pass legislation to extend defences to all workers, including app-based works. The PRO Act is a great first step, which extends negotiating defences to workers who have been mistakenly classified as “independent contractors” by their employers.

Across the country, app-based craftsmen have organized to protect their health and safety and ask that their rights as proletarians be recognized and protected. Elected masters cannot keep falling for corporate propaganda claiming a “2 1st-century” sit. Work in the 21 st century is still work; wreak that is organized on an app is still work.

We call on Congress to recognize the labor rights and protections of all workers and act boldly to ensure that app-based companies cannot block works from equal rights in the name of “flexibility” and “innovation.”

An even bigger battle for gig proletarian claims is on the horizon

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