Gig News: Presidential Candidates Debate Status of Gig Economy Workers

Jon Weinberg

Jon Weinberg is a student at Harvard Law School.

The status of gig economy workers has become a presidential election issue.  CNET reports that, in a major economic policy speech Monday, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton noted questions raised by the rise of the gig economy:

“Many Americans are making extra money renting out a small room, designing websites, selling products they design themselves at home, or even driving their own car,” Clinton said during a speech at the New School in New York City.  “This on-demand, or so-called ‘gig economy,’ is creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation.  But it’s also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future.”

Clinton also said she would “crack down on bosses who exploit employees by misclassifying them as contractors or even steal their wages” and that “fair pay and fair scheduling, paid family leave and earned sick days, child care are essential to our competitiveness and growth.”  While Clinton did not cite any gig economy companies by name, her comments come as Uber and other companies face major lawsuits and challenges over their classification of workers as independent contractors.  Many of the essential benefits Clinton cited are available to employees, but not independent contractors.

According to Politico, Republican candidate Jeb Bush plans to respond to Clinton’s remarks during a visit to San Francisco this Thursday, when he will take an Uber ride and speak about the power of the gig economy.  Bush’s campaign also released a statement criticizing Clinton for “antiquated proposals protect the special interests that want to stifle American ingenuity and 21st Century companies like Uber that are creating jobs.”  Republican candidate Rand Paul also tweeted in support of gig economy companies and called Clinton “out of touch.”  The chief technology officer of Clinton’s campaign responded to the Republican candidates by noting that “Hillary is not calling out specific sectors, or any one company, but is addressing an economy-wide problem that has existed for years.”

OnLabor will have more following Bush’s speech on Thursday and will continue to monitor the statements and positions of candidates regarding gig economy workers.

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