WITHOUT THE RIGHT TO UNIONIZE, GIG ECONOMY WORKERS RISK EXPLOITATION. BUT ORGANIZING 21ST CENTURY WORKERS IS NO EASY FEAT.
BY SARAH KESSLER
Feb 19, 2015
At first glance, the idea of a gig economy labor movement seems like a contradiction in terms. Uber drivers aren’t legally employees, so they don’t have the right to organize with the protections and bargaining privileges that most labor unions have.
That hasn’t stopped them from organizing.
Drivers who work on Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar have started “App-Based Drivers Associations” in at least two states. The California branch teamed up with local Teamsters in August for “organizational and lobbying assistance,” and in September, after Uber drivers in New York created a Facebook Page called Uber Drivers Network NYC, some of them went on strike over Uber fare cuts.
All of these efforts, however, get dragged down by a simple reality of the gig economy: tactics used by trade unions to win better working conditions in decades past are hard to implement when your work is doled out through an app.