The Gig Economy Won

Or Did It?

No, not this gig economy …

… remember those days?

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The Other One

I’m not so sure this was a win for the gig economy, but it definitely was a win for the multi-trillion ‘Silicon Valley’ corporations who bought the vote. From the shareholders PoV, good job that they did, because a loss would have likely destroyed those companies - or at least their current business models.


Unless you live in California, chances are that you don’t know what Prop 22 is. Hell - even if you live in California, there’s a chance you won’t! But … BUT … it’s been, it’s gone, it passed and what that means not just for California, but arguably the rest of America, if not the world, is that your ‘too cheap to believe’ rides and deliveries will continue unabated. What do I mean? Well …

"Uber and Lyft figure if they win in California they can win political fights in the rest of the states, and probably Congress. Labor unions recognize its importance as well. If Uber and Lyft win this, more employers around the country will classify more of their employees as contract workers. That would mean big savings to employers, since contract workers don't get Social Security or worker's compensation, minimum wage, or other labor protections. By the same token, workers would be disadvantaged."
Robert Reich

Well over $200 million was spent on the campaign, with the ‘yes camp’ outspending the ‘no camp’ by an order of magnitude and in the process made it the costliest ballot measure in the history of California. To have lost would have upended the gig economy as we know it. They had to win - and they did, capturing 58.7% of the vote. In other words, every vote cost around 12 dollars.

Beyond the $200 million, these enterprises sweetened the pot with various concessions. Just one example; Uber drivers will be paid 125% of the minimum wage. Sounds good right? Small print - while the driver is ‘engaged’, i.e. actually carrying a passenger.

BTW, did you hear the story about a ‘Techno Spinner’ that was really a Philosopher?

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Notably, for all its concessions, Prop 22 does not offer explicit protections such as workers' compensation, unemployment insurance, family leave, or sick leave, or allow workers to unionize.

And yes - I get that if you are self employed, that all the usual benefits of being employed will not be part of your package (that is afterall why the corporations fought as hard a they did), but if you aren’t an employee - then how can the employer prevent you from unionizing?

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This and much more discussed in this podcast. It's short, interesting and the person talking is Sam Harnett, KQED ‘tech and labor reporter for the San Francisco PBS station KQED.

An unprecedented ballot measure could shape the gig economy for years to come.

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