Sharing with whom?
I’ve been skeptical of Uber and other so-called “sharing economy” companies for a while. It seems like they are making money by skirting regulation and pretending not to have employees; they are a “platform” for matching people who want services with people willing to provide them, and as such they don’t have the legal responsibility of a traditional company. Or at least that’s the idea. Plus it is offensive to think of the word “share” in this context.
But my complaints have remained relatively vague, until this morning, when I read two articles about the issue.
Meanwhile delivery giant DHL has launched its MyWays delivery service, powered by “people who want to deliver parcels and earn some extra money.” TaskRabbit and others call their workers “micro-entrepreneurs,” but that is a poor description of precarious piecework. The preferred phrasing of “extra money” harks back to women’s jobs of forty years ago. And like those jobs, they don’t come with things like insurance protection, job security, benefits — none of that old economy stuff.
Next, The Class-Action Lawyer Shaking Up the Share Economy, published in The Recorder (hat tip Nathalie Molina). It profiles a lawyer named Shannon Liss-Riordan who is going after the sharing economy companies to first acknowledge, then pay their employees better wages and benefits. From the article:
“Uber is what, the most highly valued startup in the world right now?” she asked. “Valued at over $40 billion? I think they can afford to pay for workers’ comp and unemployment.”