“Gig economy” growth now appears to exceed payroll employment’s by nearly tenfold. But the enrichment of the newest brand of swashbuckling entrepreneurs, like “ride sharing” Uber and Lyft, have produced a business model that exacerbates society’s growing gap between rich and poor.
By virtue of sexual harassment cases and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s video-taped encounter with a disgruntled driver, the plight of 700,000 drivers has claimed increasing attention.
These drivers are part of the casual and part-time workforce known as “gig” workers. They work unscheduled hours for more than one company and are paid by the job and at a rate imposed by the company. Because companies consider them independent contractors rather than employees, the drivers receive no guaranteed minimum wage, overtime or safety-net benefits like unemployment or worker’s compensation or protection against discrimination.
Many of the drivers are retirees, startup aspirants or college students supplementing their income. Some, however, put in 50 hours a week and more. They are behind the pushback against this business model.
Drivers have instituted class-actions, claiming a denial of overtime or reimbursement for expenses incurred under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. These cases have foundered on employer promulgated arbitration that requires drivers to submit their […]