So, for some of the people I interviewed in Squeezed,
when they were going through economic hardship,
they would get sick physically,
they would be psychologically troubled,
they’d have to go on anti-anxiety medications,
sometimes they wouldn’t even have healthcare,
so that would be an added expense.
some of the subjects might experience something called “decision fatigue”
where they’d be unable to make decisions or choices in their lives,
Because they’ve been so overwhelmed by the feeling of economic uncertainty.
They were thinking constantly ‘how do I survive?’
rather than ‘how do I lead a better life?’
or ‘how do I get my kid on the best course? ‘
And so that’s a commonplace, some sort of,
just that overwhelmed aspect when you don’t have resources
That’s all you’re thinking about.
One of the challenges for people seeking employment in a gig economy
is that they’re disposable, right?
They can always be replaced by somebody else.
They may not have relationships with another human-being at Uber or at Lyft, whatever.
Supposedly it’s this idea of independence
but it’s often like in fact this kind of free-floating quality
Where they’re not clearly connected to a boss or colleagues.
And I think that can be really dangerous,
because then these people’s experiences
are not humanized to the people who are hiring them
they’re just cogs in wheels
and we should really start thinking about that
because I think they can be really debilitating.
I talk about teachers who drive Uber in a chapter
and I think for many of them they were recruited by the company,
they had a motto four or five years ago.
“ Uber—teachers driving our future ”
So teachers and nurses were attractive to Uber simply as middle class icons,
but they weren’t attractive enough to, you know
the people in their community who were teaching
or the politicians in their community to give them a wage
so they wouldn’t have to drive Uber on the side.
So to me that’s one of the dangers of the gig economy too
that the formerly middle class can be used just as a symbol
and a kind of respectability that they can be offering companies
While they’re kind of riffling through these once-stable professions
for solid people that they can exploit.
Many of the people I wrote about are not in organizations or even in corporations,
are contingent, which means that they work part time, on contract
they work gigs, which is now a huge amount of the population
or they work too-few hours to be counted as employees
So you know, I’m not sure,
it becomes an organizational thing most of the time
but in terms of what we’re doing
at Economic Hardship Reporting Project
we’re trying to pay journalists who have fallen on hard times
a dollar a word plus expenses.
And that’s just like one small way to keep them afloat
You know we have people writing for us
who were living without heat
on food stamps, on government medical care
They were really struggling.
And that this is one thing that I’ve noticed has been interesting lately
I call them sort of white collar alt-labor
this is like white collar unions, almost for journalists,
for other employees in the past
who’re not necessarily unionized freelance journalists
And what we’re doing is part of that,
but there’s all sorts of other things cropping up.
There are collectives for caregivers that I’ve written about,
so they’re sort of working together,
they’re owning the apps where they rent out
where they try to get customers for housecleaning or nannying
And so I think, what can organizations do
Organizations can try to empower their poor workers
by giving them resources,
both economic and from the companies themselves
for instance, like an app that they themselves would own a part of
rather than just simply the company owning the app
and the worker just this teeny piece of teeny “ task rabbit
They would instead be a part of the app.
Cooperatives is another way I think
that we can start to think about that especially, web-based cooperatives.
That’s becoming really important
given the concentration of wealth.
where we have a teeny number of people owning these companies,
And just hundreds of thousands of people working for them,
driving Uber, cleaning houses, etc.
We can start talking about people owning a share of the digital economy
and the gig work that they are doing.