The Uber Imperative: New Economy vs. Old Politics
Freelancers, Politics, Uber

The Uber Imperative: New Economy vs. Old Politics

The Uber “ride-sharing” service—basically a way more convenient taxi-hailing system—just won a big battle in New York City, forcing Mayor Bill de Blasio to back down from a plan to restrict it because he doesn’t like the fact that people might actually be driving cars around Manhattan.

But the company has also lost a few battles, most notably in France, and similar companies have not been able to muster enough public support to get politicians to back down. A company called Homejoy—it was like Uber, but for home cleaning—just shut down after being hit with a lawsuit intended to force it to reclassify its workers as employees. So they went from being exploited as independent contractors to being out of work. I bet they’re really glad now that they decided to get lawyers involved.

This is part of a wider battle over the “gig economy,” in which companies like Uber and its many imitators serve to coordinate the contact between independent contractors and customers, disavowing the role of “employers” and all of the regulations it entails. But traditional politicians—most notably that old reactionary, Hillary Clinton—accuse these companies of evading “worker protections,” by which they mean a vast network of labor regulations. Of course, that’s the whole point, and it’s the main reason for the success of these services: their ability to perform an end run around extra costs and bureaucracy.

The Uber “ride-sharing” service—basically a way more convenient taxi-hailing system—just won a big battle in New York City, forcing Mayor Bill de Blasio to back down from a plan to restrict it because he doesn’t like the fact that people might actually be driving cars around Manhattan. But the […]

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