As Gig Economy Grows, Its Toll on Workers Mounts 

By Conor Gallagher

The Biden Labor Department released a proposal on Oct. 11 that could force regulators and courts to reclassify gig workers as employees rather than independent contractors.

The stakes are high – not only is the gig economy devastating its workers, but there are ongoing efforts to expand the model to nearly all American workplaces. The good folks at McKinsey estimate that 36 percent of the workforce (58 million Americans) are gig, contract, freelance, and temporary workers – up from 27 percent in 2016. And the numbers are only growing as inflation forces people to take on a second or third job in order to make ends meet.

Here’s a rundown of some of the latest from the gig economy, as well as reasons to be doubtful about ‘Amtrak Joe’s’ efforts to rein in the abuses.

The Gig Economy and Homelessness

It wasn’t that long ago that gig workers, especially grocery and take out deliverers, were declared heroes back when people still cared about the COVID-19 pandemic.

While wealthier people placed orders online and stocked up, it was low-income people delivering their food items and exposing themselves to do so. (Not to mention that low-income people also had to shop in-person and regularly because they couldn’t afford to stock up.)

Predictably, none of that hero rhetoric ever materialized into any concrete benefits, and the gig economy continues to destroy the lives of many who are forced to partake in it.

A few weeks back, I wrote about the ongoing criminalization of homelessness in the US, and what one notices when reading accounts of struggles to stay housed is how often gig work is a culprit in the tragic stories. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated many of these trends with some gig workers’ infections (some of which become Long Covid) first taking their health, then their financial stability, and finally their homes. From Rolling Stone: 

“We are only beginning to scratch the surface of [understanding] the effects of long Covid on folks’ financial well-being — including their housing security, or lack thereof,” says Megan Ranney, M.D., the associate dean for strategy and innovation at Brown University, and co-leader of the School of Public Health’s Long Covid Initiative. “Unfortunately, for much of America, living with long Covid is enough to put folks over the edge financially, with very limited safety nets.”

One thing we do know about long Covid is that it encompasses a wide range of symptoms and severity. So while some people living with long Covid are able to continue working without a problem, others — especially those with physically demanding gig-economy jobs — don’t have that option.

“Our country does not do a great job of supporting people in ways that allow them to continue to work and take care of their families while living with chronic medical conditions,” Ranney explains. “There’s obviously a knock-on effect: If you can’t work and can’t get disability, at some point you’re going to lose your house.”

While the data catches up to reality, anecdotal evidence shows an already dire situation plumbing new depths. From The Bold Italic:

Outside a 24 Hour Fitness in San Mateo, side-saddling a commercial office space and a tiered parking structure, a swath of strategically tinted cars sit parked, veiled by thin layers of condensation coating their windshields. It’s obvious that people have spent the night inside them, presumably cocooned somewhere either in the back seat or the spacious hatch. Many attempt privacy measures — some using towels or sheets or other fabrics stuffed under the windows to block out wandering eyes.

Most display a shared vocational decal: Lyft or Uber. While most don’t associate hailing a rideshare with the notion of stepping foot inside someone’s home, that’s exactly what some passengers are doing.

Veena Dubal writes the following in the LPE Project:

Like millions of app-deployed workers in the United States during the terrifying months of lockdown, my friend Hope found herself in a particularly dire situation. Her employer, Lyft, treated her as an independent contractor—a micro-entrepreneur who didn’t have any control over how much she charged per fare or what fares she was allocated. And the state of California, despite a recent law (AB5) clarifying her status as an employee, had neglected to enforce her rights. As a result of the technology industrialists’ refusal to abide by the basic rights accorded workers, and the state’s refusal to care, she was rendered essentially dispossessed: rhetorically celebrated for her labor while disproportionately exposed to poverty, disease, and death.

Hope had recently been evicted by her new landlord—a developer in gentrifying Sacramento. And because of her erratic income as a Lyft driver and the tight housing market, she hadn’t been able to find a new home. When the pandemic hit, she was sleeping in state campgrounds. And when those shut down, Hope had ended up in her abusive father’s home. On the evening of March 28, 2020, nine days after California’s Covid-19 lockdown orders had been issued, he had kicked Hope out, in an unprovoked violent rage, and took the keys off her keychain.

Here is another:

Cardell Calloway, a 68-year-old DoorDash delivery worker from Lancaster, Calif., who said he has been living in his car for about a month after his RV was towed away, relies on SNAP benefits. When his church was offering food, he would also go there, he said.

Calloway does deliveries eight to 12 hours a day at least five days a week and makes about $500 a week, he said.

No wonder credit card debt is skyrocketing as everything becomes more expensive, including the interest rates on those cards.

Looks like it’s time for Americans to pick up a “side hustle” or two. On Nov. 1 Uber’s Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said that more than 70 percent of drivers noted that inflation played a part in their decision to sign up to work. What’s good for Uber is bad for workers, of course. Higher prices due to supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine are only making working class people more desperate, and gig workers are bearing the brunt of the costs. As the American Prospect reports:

These days, any rest time is a bonus. To reach her daily earning target of $250 to $300, the 44-year-old mother of four now has to drive until 4 or 5 p.m., rush home, do the housework, and check on her children’s homework, before she goes to bed exhausted—six times a week.

“It puts a strain on me,” said Payero-Diarra, who has been driving for Uber and Lyft since 2019. That couple of hours driving instead of resting could be a matter of life and death for workers like Payero-Diarra. But she has little choice. One of her daughters is a senior in high school, leaving her worried about impending college bills. Gas prices for two days’ worth of rides have nearly doubled to $80 from $45 at the start of the year, she said. Plus there are groceries to worry about: Food prices in New York spiked by more than 9 percent in June compared to the previous year.

A June national survey of gig workers from the Economic Policy Institute found the following:

  • 29 percent earned less than the state minimum wage that would be applicable if they were a W-2 service-sector worker.
  • 62 percent  lost earnings because of “technical difficulties clocking in or out,” compared with 19 percent of W-2 service-sector workers.
  • One in 5 gig workers went hungry because they could not afford enough to eat. 30 percent used the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program, twice the rate of W-2 service-sector workers.
  • 31 percent did not pay the full amount of their utility bills in the month prior to the survey.

Gig Work and Mental Illness

It might come as a surprise that studies are needed to confirm that precarious work controlled by cruel algorithms that doesn’t pay enough in order to afford life’s essentials would be harmful to someone’s well-being. (Then again, maybe academia is waking up to the “gigification” of higher education.)  Nonetheless, the results are clear according to  a recent study from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health.

Researchers found that gig workers reported a 50 percent increase in poor overall health compared to those who earned a salary. The research was conducted using pre-COVID-19 data, leading researchers to conclude that the health outcomes have likely deteriorated further. Furthermore, the researchers wrote:

The longer-term economic burden will ultimately be passed onto the U.S. consumer as we see increases in worker shortages, increases in prices from gig companies, and increases in unreimbursed health care utilization. It is reasonable to project that the U.S. taxpayer will pay more for uninsured chronic morbidity care of uninsured U.S. workers who are paid an insecure income.

Another Canadian study found that platform workers report higher levels of psychological distress than wage workers and the traditional self-employed due to constant financial strain.

Obviously, this is nothing new. Adam Smith wrote all the way back in 1776 that “Workmen… when they are liberally paid by the piece, are very apt to overwork themselves and to ruin their health and constitution in a few years.”

Something to keep in mind as the rollback of hard-won worker rights and transformation to a complete gig economy is the goal of the neoliberal hive mind.

Efforts to expand the gig framework to all workers

Representative Henry Cuellar (D-TX) introduced a bill earlier this year, the Worker Flexibility and Choice Act, that would accelerate the transformation of all workers into gig workers.

You might remember Cuellar from his closely watched primary contest against progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros. Democrat leaders like Nancy Pelosi, Jim Clyburn, Hakeem Jeffries, and Steny Hoyer backed Cuellar despite him being anti-labor, the most anti-choice Democrat in the federal government, and a fossil fuel industry stooge.

Cuellar ended up beating Cisneros by 289 votes.

Regardless of whether Cuellar’s legislation ultimately becomes law, the gig economy is already sniffing out new opportunities. The Chalkbeat Colorado reports:

HopSkipDrive — a rideshare service similar to Uber or Lyft that specializes in transporting children — now contracts with more than a dozen Colorado school districts, as well as human services agencies, to provide rides for vulnerable children: homeless youth, those in foster care, and students with disabilities whose specialized education plans include transportation.

But as a rideshare company, HopSkipDrive hasn’t been regulated like other companies that also provide rides for at-risk students. Those companies have to follow Colorado Department of Education rules that ensure drivers have certain training and vehicles meet safety requirements.

Elsewhere, efforts are underway across the country to “gigify” nursing care. For example, Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, New Jersey’s largest hospital and a clinical affiliate of Rutgers, just announced a partnership with the tech platform CareRev, which says it will “bring support and flexibility to New Jersey healthcare workers.” How will they do that?

With CareRev, Bergen New Bridge can identify and hire local qualified nurses, certified nursing assistants, and technicians per diem to accommodate fluctuating patient volumes…

Of course these per diem nurses would not enjoy the same benefits as full time employees, but that’s the point. And it’s happening across the country.

Take the case of the University of Minnesota paying gig workers more than its employees. The Minnesota Reformer reports:

Full-time employees at the university, who are unionized with the Teamsters Local 320, have better benefits than temp workers — quality health insurance, a pension and paid time off. But temp workers at the university have leap-frogged full time workers in terms of hourly pay, which has aggravated tensions between the university and its service employees.

The gig workers essentially function as non-strike scabs. In this case, even paid 35 percent more, the gig workers cost the university contractor less than unionized workers because they don’t receive any benefits.

And TechCrunch describes how gig work is infiltrating the hospitality industry:

With Qwick, [co-founder Jamie] Baxter sought to build a platform that connects service industry workers with food and beverage shifts in real time. Qwick uses a matching algorithm that takes into account factors like distance, the availability of “VIP” workers and supply to fill gigs for hospitality businesses, including stadiums, senior living facilities and corporate catering.

“The hospitality industry has been plagued with reputations of low retention rates, low wages and poor management and working conditions for decades,” Baxter told TechCrunch in an email interview. “Qwick aims to combat the issues of working in the industry and reshape what it means to work in hospitality by creating value for its professionals and offering them a livable wage.”

To sign up for Qwick, workers have to complete a profile and watch a five-minute virtual orientation. Once they’re vetted, they receive notifications for open shifts.

Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Two years ago California voters approved Proposition 22  that excluded many app-based workers from foundational labor laws. Proponents of ballot initiative (Lyft, Uber, DoorDash, etc.) spent over $200 million on that campaign.

California gig workers are now trying to unionize, but they are at the mercy of a court challenge to the constitutionality of Prop 22 and the Biden administration.

That’s because while unions of employees can bargain over benefits and pay, those made up of contractors cannot. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

“They can unionize, but they cannot, if they’re properly characterized as independent contractors, bargain for wages and conditions of employment,” said William Gould, professor of law emeritus at Stanford Law School and a former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board.

That is because of antitrust laws.

For example, a truly independent contractor like a plumber could agree to a fee with a client to fix some broken pipes. But if a group of independent plumbers unionized and began setting rates, it would be considered a form of price fixing.

The California Gig Workers Union could still fund litigation in an effort to improve working conditions or try to get legislators elected who are sympathetic to them, but it’s a long climb.

It remains to be seen what the final form of the Labor Department’s proposals will be. There are reasons to be skeptical that it will provide strong protections for workers. From the Christian Science Monitor:

Whatever the final version of the rule – there’s still a public comment period, and it’s likely to get challenged in court – it will serve more as guidance than a binding rule, legal experts say. Courts don’t have to follow it. States have their own rules and laws, which won’t be affected by the federal guidance.

And the Biden administration remains cozy with the gig companies, even taking money from three of them (DoorDash, Shipt, and Instacart) as part of its $8 billion in “new commitments” from more than 30 businesses to end hunger in the US.

The day the proposed new rules were released shares of Lyft fell 12 percent, while Uber dropped 10 percent and DoorDash lost 6 percent, but they have all since recovered. One would expect as much, what with all the expert economic advice they’re receiving. From The Economist:

Silicon Valley is increasingly turning to economics for insights into how to solve business problems—from pricing and product development to strategy. Job-placement data from ten leading graduate programmes in economics shows that tech firms hired one in seven newly minted phds in 2022, up from less than one in 20 in 2018 (see chart). Amazon is the keenest recruiter. The e-emporium now has some 400 full-time economists on staff, several times as many as a typical research university. Uber is another big employer—last year the ride-hailing firm hired a fifth of Harvard University’s graduating phd class.

Expecting the Biden administration to anything about gig work also ignores the fact that Democrats, by and large, are of one neoliberal mind with Silicon Valley. They soak up more than 85 percent of the bribes political contributions from tech, and the revolving door is constantly moving.

Dozens of officials from the Obama administration were rewarded with cushy positions at Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Amazon, Instacart, etc. And now dozens of current Biden administration staffers have professional ties to Big Tech. It would be shocking if they turned around and blew up the exploitation model that their friends and their potential future landing spots rely on.

Speaking of that model, Instacart just agreed to pay a $46.5 million settlement with the city of San Diego regarding a claim that workers in California were improperly classified as independent contractors rather than as employees. While celebrated by the San Diego Attorney’s Office, the settlement reflects no admission of wrongdoing, and Instacart said it will have no impact on its California operations. From Supermarket News:

Instacart noted that the San Diego City Attorney of San Diego filed its suit against the company before California voters approved Proposition 22 in November 2020. The ballot measure, supported by companies such as Instacart, Uber, Lyft and DoorDash, reaffirmed the independent contractor status of app-based gig economy workers and offset California Assembly Bill 5, signed into law in mid-September 2019, which had classified them as employees receiving full benefits and labor protections.

That $46.5 million fine paid by Instacart is 0.35 percent of its $13 billion valuation and covers roughly 308,000 workers. That’s $151 per worker.

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  1. rick shapiro

    Gig work starts out looking like a reasonable choice for assuming some risk in exchange for higher earnings and flexibility; but as the gig ecosystem develops, companies find that, in cahoots with staffing companies, they can gradually use effective labor monopsomy to squeeze workers.
    When I was a sprat, job shopping electronics and software engineers were payed almost twice as much per hour as full timers. We were fine with that, because we had substantial company benefits and job security.
    A few decades later GE Avionics laid off many engineers, and then hired some of the same ones back as temps, but with LOWER hourly wages.

  2. griffen

    America in 2022. Welcome to our super exceptional edition of hell. Your class will be matched to your seat assignment, sort of the concept of the series / film “Snowpiercer”. I lack the intimate knowledge of those works but the general gist was pretty obvious. Stay in your car, lower class cattle.

    I really don’t use any of the software apps on a frequent basis, but do confess to using the Lyft app when traveling recently in Fort Lauderdale. I tend to offer a generous tip but not excessive, as the rides were generally less than $25 for a few miles from / to the airport and similar distances of 5 to 7 miles.

  3. Wukchumni

    Seasonal Sequoia NP employees (old school gig workers) & full-time employees used to rely on renting houses here in tiny town, but they’re aren’t any because they’re all short term vacation rentals now.

    We’re a hard sell to prospective parkies, because they’d have to live an hour out in Visalia, and while it isn’t a bad place (the best big city in Godzone-but it’s a very low bar-the limbo stick I use to determine such things) it isn’t what fern-feeler types want, so Sequoia NP has struggled for years to get hired help, to enable them to interact with the throngs of visitors probably staying in their old digs here.

  4. MDA

    When I read about this topic, I can’t help but think that we’re fighting the wrong battle, equally misguided as the war on drugs. Minimum standard of living, including food, clothing, shelter & healthcare, is a public good which should be freely provided to all. It doesn’t make any sense depend on private employers for provision of public goods. On one hand, the effect on private profits drives money into politics. On the other hand, it makes domestic labor uncompetitive with foreign labor. When jobs determine public welfare, employers have the whiphand over politicians and regulators. Would universal basic income, free public healthcare and public housing render the gig job debate moot (not to mention debates over minimum wage, paid leave, etc.)?

    1. Jason Boxman

      Indeed, this is a thought I’ve had for years; It isn’t reasonable to expect private employers to provision social goods. This is where an employer of last resort program could come into play; if the prevailing wages in an area are not livable, someone could work for the ELR instead.

      Right now we vastly subsidize businesses that wouldn’t be viable if they couldn’t starve their employees to death, but for public benefits.

  5. cnchal

    That device the gig worker uses as their boss, was made in a Chinese sweat shop. It should be no surprise those working conditions are being imported.

    No where is this exemplified better than the plight of the Amazon warehouse worker, timed to the micro second and a working life measured in months before being tossed on the scrap heap.

    There is no speed limit to the ever quickening pace of work and what happens inside an Amazon warehouse stays inside an Amazon warehouse because big media is paid to not look. Even were the pace cut in half, it would still not be a long term survivable jawb. All else have to keep pace or exceed the cruelty or else be eaten by Amazon.

    As for Amazon’s reputed brain power of 400 economists, not one had the guts to tell Jeff, ‘slow the fuck down or we are gonna overbuild like crazy’.

    The real kicker no one wants to talk about? How about the tenth of a trillion per year Jeff spends to bribe whip cracking sadists to shop in his store.

    1. BeliTsari

      Try to by shares of Huawei? Or buy HTC & LG. You’d be amazed that iPhone clutching yuppie libruls are among the few blissfully obtuse, who still ignore the actual cost of US Idiocracy, sneering grandiosity & buy into upwards-redistribution of everything our ancestors toiled, fought and sacrificed; to give us some say, bargaining power & the ability to stand up to boss, landlord and creditor as creators of the nation’s wealth…

      NAHhhh… it’s some other body’s turn, now!

  6. The Rev Kev

    Could it be that the Brainiacs on wall Street finally worked out that it is not possible to have a consumer economy if the workers in that economy are gig workers? Yeah, they buy the utter basics but very little of anything else that would help a consumer economy thrive. A simple demonstration here. So in earlier years you had a couple buy a home using a mortgage. But then they would have to spend money in the following years on furniture, yard equipment like lawn mowers, multiple cars, home repair, maybe pools eventually, etc. The point is that it would have been a steady stream of money going into the economy. But for gig workers? Probably mostly food, rent and entertainment. Trying to save would be a joke and they might be one medical emergency away from the streets, And it would be tougher if they were paying off student loans. So not a lot going into a consumer economy here. So thanks Wall Street – it wouldn’t have been possible without you.

    1. Tom Pfotzer

      This is a very important point.

      The paradox of capitalism is that it systematically removes labor from production, and thereby just as efficiently shrinks the market for the products it produces.

      I know of no antidote for this phenomenon. Socialism, communism…any economic allocation mechanism that uses systematic technical evolution (“productivity gains”) suffers the very same fate.

      The value of labor is and will continue to fall.

      If that truly is the case, and I invite and respectfully request you to rebut that assertion, if that’s truly the case, then in fact are “fighting the wrong battle”, as MDA points out above.

      Some people recognize this, and advocate for minimum income distributions, like Andrew Wang did last presidential cycle. Some advocate for socialization of key household inputs, like education, housing and health care.

      Some people, like me, advocate for the household to gradually evolve toward autarky (produce what’s needed by the household or village and conduct local trade), and to build a commons that shares the tools and technical knowledge to achieve said autarky.

      From an economic perspective, I believe this reducing value of labor is the core problem. Oligarchs are accelerating it, and they’re frittering away the resources we need to solve it.

      The other core problem is that the design of our economy is also ruining the planet. Quickly.

      1. tegnost

        I’d say allow capitalism to happen to the socialists at the top. Let Wall St crash and don’t bail them out. Boeing makes a self crashing plane? See ya wouldn’t want to be ya. Someone else will do it better. Don’t subsidise insurance companies. Let home values crash. Cancel student loans and watch education costs plummet. Basic income is just another subsidy to the system that needs to crash. I’m a capitalist, my MBA brother is the socialist. You wouldn’t know it from hearing him talk.

      2. Adam1

        You’re confusing problems…
        Spending = Income by accounting definition

        Even if productivity means fewer people are needed the equation remains unchanged.

        So the question then becomes why is productivity outstripping our ability to receive income and spend it to sustain a decent life? The truthful answer is it hasn’t, but reality says some of that increased productivity has moved to incomes of people who already make more money than they can spend – and that movement is not because THEY were more productive.

        That would imply on-going deflation, but reality says that’s fairly rare… and this is where debt comes in because some people can spend more than they earn. And now you can see the debt cycle the west has gotten itself into.

        As for the socialists & communists… well they started off doing a good job minimizing the elites from making unearned income; but they didn’t create a system that prevented people from accumulating money alternatives (i.e. power) from the same types of productivity gains. And there are plenty of upper middle class westerners who milk they same gains today.

        Your vision of autarky still only works if you can keep sub-groups of people from amassing unearned income whether it be monetary or non-monetary otherwise you’re just replicating what we already have.

      3. Oguk

        I like it (both your “paradox” and preferred system).

        OK, I will try your challenge, not exactly to refute it, but let’s see. Removing labor from production shouldn’t necessarily shrink the market for the products it produces, if productivity increases resulted in proportionate wage increases. Obviously that doesn’t happen in gig work, but isn’t it possible generally, or at least in some domains? Of course that requires labor empowerment as well as the transparency so productivity increases can be seen. Times and places where labor has been relatively empowered, I’m thinking US 1945-1970, productivity gains were at least shared with labor. I get your point, possibly, that it becomes harder to maintain labor power, which is hard enough, if labor simply becomes less necessary.

        The big problem with gig businesses, as we’ve seen documented here so well about Uber, is that there’s no or very little real productivity increase possible with these businesses (taxi services, food delivery etc.). They were always meant to roll up a market and pocket whatever can be extracted. And of course double down on labor exploitation, both now and eventually.

  7. Louis Fyne

    …eight to 12 hours a day at least five days a week and makes about $500 a week, he said….

    this sounds patronizing—this person likely will be better off working for Mega-Lo Mart as net auto costs and double FICA tax, I bet he is making less than minimum wage per hourly.

    Does $500 = gross or net? Is he fully accounting for using his car 10 hous a day with a rainy day fund for future maintenance and a replacement car?

    IMO, gig labor (as a whole) gets their financial innumeracy weaponized against them as I bet most gig laborers don’t know their own cost structure and confuse gross wage minus gas as net wages.

    this would be a good exercise for a good journalist….so me this person’s weekly gross pay, car expenses, FICA taxes, insurance coverage, and hours worked.

    let’s do the math. I bet this person would need to be paid (gross) at least 100% more to make it really worth his while

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Pizza delivery kind of makes sense because of the density of pizza orders and the ease of taking the order through the delivery process. Chinese too. They have peak days too, so it’s easy to route the orders. Then they arent likely highway miles and generally after 5pm traffic has ended. I pick up lunch at a nearby place around the time the door dash people get there. I walk over, but the door dash drivers pick up like 3 orders at most. It’s crazy.

  8. Eclair

    On our trek across the northern US, we have been observing the effects that the deteriorating economy is having on the working class.

    In Ohio, stopping at a Cracker Barrel for mid-afternoon meal (what can I say, they serve real veggies, not pale yellow lettuce. And beans.), there was no employee at the hostess station. We hung about for a bit, until a harassed looking manager emerged from the kitchen and seated us. Our server, a gray-haired would-be comedian, nattily attired in pressed jeans and button-down blue shirt, was working the entire floor. He took orders, then offered everyone within hearing distance a job. “Are you breathing? You’re hired!” He was into his second shift for that day. We saw ‘help wanted’ signs posted everywhere.

    In Wyoming, at a hotel near the Utah line, my husband carried in our cargo of home-grown potatoes, onions, garlic, apples and a gray-blue hubbard squash bigger than a microwave oven. Temperatures were projected to drop to 7 (!!) degrees that night.

    The next morning, the housekeeper knocked on our door as we were packing up, curious as to why we were traveling with big burlap bags of produce. We got into a long discussion of how her family in Mexico cooked those big squashes, involving lots of brown sugar and cinnamon. This evolved into a discussion of the miserable cold and how she was moving back to coastal Washington State in a few weeks.

    “The minimum wage in Wyoming is only seven dollars an hour!” She had moved to help out her niece, who managed the hotel, but the low wages plus the 7 degree weather and this in November with hard winter yet to arrive, was sending her back to the west coast.

    The night before, we had eaten at the local bar next to the hotel. The menu had a big note on the front, asking for patience from the patrons, as ‘help’ was hard to find and the supply chain was fractured. So, the food offerings were reduced and might take a while to arrive at the table. Drinks seemed to be plentiful, however.

  9. Mark Gisleson

    Thirty years ago when the temp services were just ramping up, you couldn’t put temp work on your resume or employers would write you off as a loser. It was widely seen as better to have gaps in your employment than to admit to temping. [Contract gigs weren’t considered temping.]

    Now 36% of the workforce are gig employees? Which has evolved into each worker being their own temp service thanks to apps? I’m guessing employers looking to hire permanent employees look at gig workers like they used to regard temps. Another way the swells (whose kids can ride out a jobless stretch) ensure that their kids get the good jobs.

    We’re building a permanent underclass and not only have all the ladders been pulled up, the ground floor windows and doors have been barred. Only “real” employees and pizza delivery persons can get in.

  10. Glen

    It’s been a while, maybe five years now, but I used to ride my bicycle to work, rain or shine, summer or winter. It’s a slower way to travel, relatively quiet, and you are normally riding very early in the morning, before most people get up and go to work. And the thing I kept seeing, over and over, was people obviously living in their vehicles. I suspect it’s gotten much worse because now there is practically an undeclared war going on against those living in RVs and camps in the greater Seattle area. But I cannot help but think that the more the elites lean into “the gig economy”, the more people are going to get pushed into Bidenvilles where “nothing will fundamentally ever get better.”

    And if you think “the gig economy” is how a country wins “the new cold war”, I want some of what you’re smoking. This is a modern day template for wrecking the working class, deskilling the work force, and crushing local Main St businesses.

    1. Wukchumni

      The lucky ones live in a 5th wheel trailer or the like that isn’t going on vacay anytime soon as they have family or friends who let them be on their property, but yeah the real invisible homeless are those living in their vehicles, cars in particular.

  11. tegnost

    Add in the ACA where employers with 50 employees are required to provide insurance for over 30 hrs a week, so 28 hours a week it is… just get two jobs, and work 56 hours a week with no overtime…oh and no increase in the minimum wage, so no increase in the poverty level, so no increase in the bare minimum to be eligible for medicaid. One used to get $12 an hour for a crappy job, now it’s 20 to work at mcdon’s, and restricted schedule to 28 hrs per week as noted above and guess what? your higher wage gets you a higher premium! So Great!
    This country…globalist paradise.
    Go long pitchforks.

    1. Wukchumni

      Just for the record, the pike was the peasant ad hoc weapon of choice when cooler heads prevailed back in the day in Paris. It also came in much handier than a pitchfork when doing a ‘hold-up’ if you know what I mean and I think you do.

  12. Partyless poster

    I really think the problem starts with demand, no one even on the left, boycotts these services. In fact a lot of young people think your flat out crazy not to use Uber. Until there is some kind of mass understanding that these platforms eat away at all worker rights its only going to get worse.
    The solution is simple don’t use them

    1. Sue inSoCal

      Partyless, I agree, in part. (No pun intended…) Here in the CA desert, Lyft and Uber are the only choices. Cabs were phased out as soon as these guys got a foothold. There are cabs at the public airport and there’s a cab van to the casino. There are times when I need a ride; public transportation is impossible and non-existent. I tip hugely because although the prices for rides have skyrocketed, the workers are gig slaves earning +\- $5.50/hr.

  13. Oh

    “They can unionize, but they cannot, if they’re properly characterized as independent contractors, bargain for wages and conditions of employment,” said William Gould, professor of law emeritus at Stanford Law School and a former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board.

    That is because of antitrust laws.

    For example, a truly independent contractor like a plumber could agree to a fee with a client to fix some broken pipes. But if a group of independent plumbers unionized and began setting rates, it would be considered a form of price fixing.

    The FTC looks away at the airline oligopoly that fixes air fares everyday using software which make prices visible to all of their competitors. Yet there has been no anti-trust action. But if gig workers team up to set rates then they’re swooped on by anti-trust mobs and courts that are purportedly for the consumer but are actually for the big businesses. What a country!

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