Gig News: Firms and Labor Leaders Form Coalition, Propose Worker Safety Net

Published November 10th, 2015 -  - 11.10.153


A newly formed coalition of Gig economy executives, labor leaders, venture capitalists, business-people, academics and policy professionals announced in a letter published today that they support the creation of a social safety net for workers in the Gig economy.  The formation of the coalition was first reported by The New York Times.  The coalition includes the leaders of several large Gig economy firms including Lyft, Instacart, Handy, and Etsy but notably not Uber.  Lyft and Handy are defendants in worker classification suits, while Instacart recently re-categorized some of its workers as employees.  Labor representatives in the coalition include former SEIU President Andy Stern, the presidents of SEIU Local 2015 and SEIU Local 775, and Freelancers Union Founder and Executive Director Sara Horowitz.

The coalition’s letter, entitled “Common ground for independent workers: Principles for delivering a stable and flexible safety net for all types of work,” stopped short of suggesting any changes to current Gig economy worker classification or outlining specific policies, but did articulate principles for the creation of a social safety net covering workers in the Gig economy.  Those principles are:

1. Supporting both stability and flexibility is good for workers, business and society.

2. We need a portable vehicle for worker protections and benefits.

3. The time to move the conversation forward is now.

With respect to a model delivering “benefits and protections such as workers compensation, unemployment insurance, paid time off, retirement savings, and training/development” to workers not covered by an employment relationship, the coalition recommended the vehicle be independent of a particular work relationship, flexible and pro-rated, portable, universal, and supportive of innovation.

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