The Gig Economy Remains Hard To Pin Down

by | Mar 31, 2022 | Gig Economy, Politics, States

The challenge of gig-work regulation has plenty to do with its rapid expansion (with at least 10% of U.S. workers counting it as their main income source) over the past five years. There’s also the sheer fact that rules differ by state and by country with various interests (and loads of platforms) hoping to cash in on the labor-rule ambiguity.

It’s clear, though, that gig-worker organization (and collective bargaining, strikes, and so on) aren’t the golden ticket (to higher pay, benefits, and more) that unions would promise (because taking on employee status generally translates into losing flexibility and making other tradeoffs). Still, unions will attempt to game this issue to increase their head counts (and dues-collecting revenue), all while states attempt to gain clarity on gig-worker classification.

In Washington state, for example, both the Senate (paywall) and House recently passed a bill (which must be reconciled before heading to Governor Jay Inslee) that grants some benefits to gig drivers (such as paid sick leave and agreements on pay rate) but doesn’t push them into full-blown employee status. Interestingly, the legislation boasts the support of not only Uber and Lyft but also the Teamsters-associated Drivers Union, yet at what cost? Some drivers insist that the protections don’t go far enough, and if these bills pass, the fight to gain employee classification would halt, barring federal intervention.

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