Tag Archives: gig economy


Old Wine in New Bottles: Gender and the Gig Economy

Ruth Milkman has published “Old wine in new bottles: gender and the gig economy” about her study (along with Luke Elliott-Negri, Kathleen Griesbach, and Adam Reich) of the platform-based food economy, which had an explosion in demand when COVID-19 hit. She found that the majority of the workers were white women, and describes the “class-gender nexus” of this element of the gig economy.

Read about it in WorkinProgress.


Photo Credit: Leo Chen via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

EVENT: Reworking Labor: The Case of Uber and the Gig Economy (4/6)

A Student-Organized Forum


This forum will examine the transformation of work at Uber, a leader in the burgeoning “gig economy.” Advocates of this new model argue that the “gig economy” offers flexibility and allows for much greater worker autonomy. And, in the case of Uber, they contend that the company has provided jobs and taxi service to the outer boroughs and to underserved communities. Yet, how is this new model affecting the system of worker rights and employer responsibilities? How does the new technology associated with this model dictate wages and working conditions? Uber and its ilk merit special scrutiny in light of their potential role in rewriting legal and legislative precedents in other workplaces and industries.

Speakers Include:

  • James Parrott, Deputy Director and Chief Economist at the Fiscal Policy Institute
  • Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director of New York Taxi Workers Alliance
  • Katie Unger, former Deputy Commissioner of the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, consultant, writer and longtime New York labor activist.

Photo by Rob Nguyen via flickr (CC-BY-SA)

NYC Council Introduces “Freelance Isn’t Free” Act

This holiday season, New Yorkers living in the gig economy were given reason for optimism: the NY City Council introduced a bill proposing a set of rights for freelance workers. Dubbed “Freelance Isn’t Free Act,” and introduced by Council Member Brad Lander, this act would give freelance workers access to “protections now enjoyed by regular employees.”

Lydia DePillis, writing for the Washington Post, explains that the bill “would require all employers to put contracts in writing, impose civil and criminal penalties for taking longer than 30 days to deliver payments, and award double damages plus attorneys fees to contractors who’ve been stiffed.”

She continues, explaining that members of the independent economy have “been getting more vocal in recent years.”

Lander got the idea for the bill from the Freelancer’s Union, which now claims 280,000 members (joining is free; the 20-year-old organization funds itself through a for-profit arm that provides insurance benefits). In a survey, 70 percent of members said they lost some money on account of delinquent clients.

“It’s almost become something that people view as the price of doing business, just accepting that they won’t get paid,” says Sara Horowitz, the Freelancers Union’s founder and director. “It’s really crazy, because it’s a lot of money, and it’s really bad practice for companies to think they can do this.” Continue reading NYC Council Introduces “Freelance Isn’t Free” Act

From Sharing Economy to Shared Ownership

Want to go deeper on the world of sharing, cooperativism, and an internet economy that works for all of us? Head to the New School November 13-14th for Platform Cooperativism: a coming out party for the cooperative internet, co-sponsored by the Murphy Institute. Register here.

In a new article over at FastCoexist (“The People’s Uber: Why The Sharing Economy Must Share Ownership“), Nathan Schneider and Trebor Scholz lament the current state of the sharing economy:

For all the things that companies like Airbnb and TaskRabbit allow us to share with each other […] ownership and governance are not on offer. This is what the democratic promise of the Internet has come to: a democracy of access, of “collaborative consumption,” but not of control, real accountability, or ownership.

It’s a story that’s all too familiar for exploited workers subject to the micro-monitoring, low wages, and new forms of precarity that have opened up with the sharing economy. Yet, while Silicon Valley hails the new “freedoms” afforded by an internet that allows anyone to monetize any of their latent resources — time, bedrooms, cars and more — many workers are suffering from the gigification that has left them without benefits, stable wages, or any sort of certainty. From this, it’s easy for the future of work to look grim indeed.

Scholz and Schneider, however, take a bold step, opening up a new set of imaginative possibilities: What if, instead of being exploited by the “on-demand” economy, workers ran that economy themselves? Continue reading From Sharing Economy to Shared Ownership