In the guise of entrepreneurialism and individual freedom the gig-economy was once hailed as the solution to the ills of the degrading work relationships that formed the backbone of the capitalist economy. Legal scholar and activist Veena Dubal considers how organized workers have helped dispel this myth by speaking out about the darker side of the gig-economy. In conversation with legal labor historian William Forbath, Dubal will discuss these issues and more – from the future of the gig-economy to the potential for legal change in the aftermath of California’s Prop 22.
- 0:00 Introduction
- 0:50 Panel begins
- 5:05 – 9:55 Veena Dubal presents the idea that there is no such thing as the “gig economy”. “Gig work” does not occupy a single sector but should be understood as jobs that exist outside of the boundaries of labor law. Many of these jobs are also currently deployed by companies that imagine themselves as technology companies. Veena explains how the longer-term precaritization of taxi work underpins the emergence of Uber-like models in recent years.
- 11:00 – 19:27 Veena Dubal explains the hidden consequences and the downsides of “uberizing” work, and how promised benefits are not sustainable, leaving only the most vulnerable behind to do the work.
- 20:07 – 25:50 Veena Dubal breaks down the most important aspects of California Assembly Bill 5, which provides extended protections for gig workers by giving them an avenue to claim employee classification. Veena argues that this bill is innovative for what it signals, a political shift towards enforcing laws on behalf of gig workers.
- 27:25 – 36:30 Veena Dubal describes the complex relationship between employee versus independent contractor classification, and the steps that companies have taken to paint employee status as something negative. However, Veena reveals that most drivers do want access to the protections offered to employees.
- 47:33 – 50:15 Veena Dubal shares her opinions on the threat of automation. She argues that the automation threats are a narrative often used to distract away from demands to improve working conditions.
- 53:55 – 57:53 Veena explains the breakdown of workers in the Uber/Lyft industry and why different identities (full time, part time, working out of necessity, working to save) can cause the fractures in labour organizing efforts.