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How the Gig Economy Profits off Desperation

October 17, 2016

By Paris Marx : thebolditalic – excerpt

Children are running the company [Homejoy] and they act like they are still in college. The poor cleaners are being treated like slaves; the children make fun of them behind their backs; this company is a tax-evader and a moral concern to the working class.”

—anonymous former employee of house-cleaning startup Homejoy

While the gig economy promises to free workers from the traditional, drab 9-to-5 work environment, the reality is quite different. Many contractors employed in gig economy–type jobs lack health care and retirement benefits, are at the mercy of their employers’ scheduling needs, and — despite being promised so much freedom — find themselves little more than glorified service workers.

While the term “gig economy” is sometimes vaguely defined, the Bureau of Labor Statistics describes it as a workforce characterized by “single project[s] or task[s] for which a worker is hired, often through a digital marketplace, to work on demand.”…

Wave goodbye to benefits Most workers in the gig economy have no minimum wage, no unemployment benefits, no paid sick days, no pensions, and even no maximum or minimum working hours. They live at the whim of the platform(s) they’ve chosen to affiliate themselves with…

False promises of autonomy

In 2014, Fast Company reporter Sarah Kessler spent a month working in the gig economy, and her experience didn’t reflect the rosy image of the sharing economy that companies like Uber, TaskRabbit, and Homejoy promote…

The first stage of a larger transformation

Automation is already changing the way we work, though so far it has impacted only certain segments of the labor market. In 2011, the New York Times reported that since the beginning of the recovery, companies were spending only 2 percent more on employees, yet 26 percent more on new software and equipment. Clearly, companies are much more interested in minimizing labor costs, even if that means spending more on equipment…

The gig economy isn’t about sharing; it’s about service.

Benefiting from inequality – The near-unprecedented levels of inequality in the United States — which are particularly exacerbated in the Bay Area given the housing crisis and inflated tech sector salaries — are drawing a distinct line between those who benefit from the system and those who don’t. This division is exploited by the gig economy, if not furthered by it.

The near-unprecedented levels of inequality in the United States — which are particularly exacerbated in the Bay Area given the housing crisis and inflated tech sector salaries — are drawing a distinct line between those who benefit from the system and those who don’t. This division is exploited by the gig economy, if not furthered by it…(more)

 

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