Gig Workers Tire of Waiting for Action From Biden’s White House

Sep 02, 2022 · 219 comments
Patrick (NYC)
Where are today’s Jimmy Hoffas and Mike Quills? Unfortunately, it was American workers who voted away their economic interests for Republican dog whistles starting with Ronald Reagan. They should never have let that happen and are now suffering the consequences.
Truth at Last (NJ)
Vote all Blue for Congress this Fall so the Dems can have a real majority and get past the blockers, even among their own ranks. Things will not get better until you do. And realize up front the hazards of a gig job before you take one.
PK (Atlanta)
@Truth at Last No thank you, I don't want my taxes being raised and freebies being given to others using my hard earned tax dollars.
A Blinkin (Chicago)
On the other hand, serfdoms have had their successes in this world
Dan (Chicago)
I drive for Uber and Lyft full time. No assigned shifts. You can work as little or as much as you want. You need a few days or a month off, fine. That's why people do it. It's a godsend for people who need a lot of flexibility due to family or other obligations. Or people who need extra hours in addition to another job to pay down debt. Classify them as employees and all of that's gone. Wages will go down to the point you might as well work at Taco Bell. And then you'll have assigned shifts due to employee laws revolving around a 40-hour work week that some cabal long ago decided was best for everyone. And then if you want health insurance, a big chunk comes out of your weekly paycheck. Like most low paying jobs, the benefits aren't worth it, anyway. People do not know what they're asking for. I'm not saying Lyft is perfect. They're abusive in many ways and completely uncaring about their drivers. It's a dangerous job giving rides to strangers. And false complaints about drivers have become common to get a fare refunded. Lyft has what amounts to a two-strike rule. If one rider lies and says your car smells like weed or that you fell asleep, and a year later someone else makes a similar report, they dismiss you. There is no job "security". But classifying as employees with assigned shifts and low wages is not the answer. And that's what will happen. The benefits at low-paying jobs are typically awful with occasional exceptions.
Ben Dorrigan (Bend, Oregon 🏔️)
If you want change on this issue then lobby your state legislature. There is no need to try to federalize this. It isn't national defense, foreign affairs, or the currency. States can handle it.
Truth at Last (NJ)
@Ben Dorrigan Do you really think so? I can think of very little that States actually do well on their own, without the support of Federal laws and money to back them, even Blue ones.
Chris (NJ)
The whole point of the gig economy is that these are not real jobs. Workers have to accept a trade off between job security and flexibility. Consumers have to accept a trade off between low costs and uneven service. The gig economy is like paying your neighbor $20 to help with your yard instead of hiring landscapers. You know his work won't be as good as a professional's, but you're glad to save the money; he knows this isn't a full-time job, but he's willing to sacrifice free time for a little extra cash. Stop trying to turn side hustles into real jobs and destroying a valuable subset of the economy in the process.
MrDickens (Hawai’i)
@chris. Right. And the neighbor is also required to buy and maintain all of the tools, the gas for the leaf blower, and insure everything in case there’s an accident. Other than that, it’s just the same. Not.
Andy (Paris)
Small difference: there's no intermediary between you and your neighbour making billions by evading labor laws. Destroy a subset of the economy? Sick to death of over the top scare tactics of tech billionaires and the clueless minions defending them. Go sell your snake oil and fear elsewhere.
PK (Atlanta)
@MrDickens These things are known in the gig economy and yet people choose to drive for Lyft and Uber knowing they need to provide the car and all associated coverage. If you don't like it, don't drive for them or use them. Stop complaining because you think the drivers are getting a raw deal in a contract they willingly agreed to and are free to leave at any time.
Buffalo Soldier (Buffalo, NY)
The primary labor negotiator that American workers have is the federal government. I’m grateful that there’s been a push for unions ever since the pandemic revealed so much - it was long overdue - but it’s a very long game. The “free market system” has lobbyists and politicians that are experts at playing the long game and getting the results they desire.
Valerie (California)
A few years ago, California passed a law re-classifying all but a narrow set of gig workers as employees. Then, in 2020, Uber and Lyft spent more than $200 million on a Prop. 22, successful ballot measure that reversed much of that law for drivers. A portion of the new law requires that it can’t be changed unless 87.5% of the legislature votes in favor. You read that right. Uber and Lyft bought themselves their own fiefdom. Prop. 22 passed with 59% of the vote! Sure, Trump and the Republican Party are doing their best to destroy our democracy, but we have to be honest: they’re not the only ones happy to help US society unravel. Some of our corporate leaders are happy to turn employees into fiefs so long as profits and bonuses keep going up. And unfortunately, people fall for it. So while I agree that it would be wonderful (critical, even) if the federal government passed legislation re-classifying most gig workers as employees, I also have trouble with people blaming Biden for not doing enough. Newsom and the state legislature handed these protections to California on a silver platter, and people here voted to incinerate them and give the platter to Dara Khosrowshahi, who took home almost $20 million in 2021.
Michael (Ottawa)
@Valerie I blame Trump for the Buffalo Bills' loss in last year's playoff match against Kansas City. Come on! Trump had less to do with it than Biden. California is an overwhelmingly Democratic state and the majority voted against Prop 22 because more rights for these underpaid people means less money in their own wallets. And related to that is the fact that California has the most undocumented immigrants in the U.S. At least Trump tried to halt the flow; Biden has not.
Michael Greason (Toronto)
@Michael The wording of the proposal and the advertising was confusing. Many Californians voted the opposite of their desire.
Michael (Ottawa)
@Michael Greason So you're not blaming Trump then. Because that's more than a stretch.
Eric (NJ)
Aside from working non-union in an attempt to organize 3 jobsites for my union, all my work was under union contracts With union contractors. Once the initial contracts were established the subsequent contractual gains were minor and incremental. One of the first of these IC Gig workers I know proudly told me "I am gigging". Until she realized it was a step down. Most of these ICs believed they were charting new uncharted employment territory like Pirates, setting their own rules and coming out on top! I look at an employment contract with 1 thing in mind: what is the loaded rate, which includes taxable pay, deferred compensation- pension and a 403b program and medical. After those are established, anything else is nice. One need only look to the deregulation of the trucking industry, fewer union jobs and many more independent contractors struggling to make a buck. There is not much uncharted employment territory, only euphemisms for sharecroppers and most pirates were hung. As for those 3 jobs I tried to organize- 1 was successful and their lot was improved, 1 eventually went out of business and the last was sold, several workers left and are doing worse and those that remained are very dissatisfied. The Gig IC failed to get their needed baseline established at the beginning of their Piracy, best of luck with the needed structural improvements.
A. Log (San Francisco)
Drives don’t understand the dynamics behind supply and demand - and Lyft and Uber both don’t openly teach and map out how they can really make money. Instead, it’s in-pop and push notifications at every step what they should do to make more money. There are smart drivers who know how to play by the demand game do fairly well on Lyft and Uber and can make $60k easily a year. They even track and log each of their drives in a spreadsheet and they calculate the best times of day, best locations/zones to work. That helps them devise a strategy to earn the most money. Uber and Lyft (and DoorDash and Instacart as well) will pay you if you work the periods demand is most high. Those critical time frames to make money are not when most people want to drive or can drive. People often use gig work to supplement income outside of other work or caregiver hours. Age, health and caregiver status factors into why this does or does not work well for people to make money. Is the system fair? No. Should these companies be obligated to provide full transparency on the best hours and times to work? Maybe. Retailers that pay commissions like Nordstrom don’t tell you this either - it’s something you have to figure out on the job yourself. The real problem we have in America is a lack of social safety net, especially for aging and caregiver workers. This isn’t a gig economy problem, it’s high housing costs, lack of universal health and caregiver support.
Newman1979 (Florida)
LOL with Republicans in power to do anything for"gig" labor.
j hu (berkeley)
Gig workers say they have no choice but to work under poor conditions because they have to put food on the table, etc. Yet I keep seeing signage and news reports about staff (i.e. employee) shortages. A lot of the signs are at retail and restaurant establishments, so advanced training/skills doesn't seem to be a factor. So what's going on? (real question, not rhetorical)
Susan (San Diego, Ca)
@j hu They like driving around all day ( what American doesn’t?) A lot of people will pick an occupation based on convenience and fun factors, then complain that it won’t pay the bills. They are looking for a job that doesn’t require many skills, works for their “schedule” and pays a lot. Aren’t we all?
lzolatrov (Mass)
Thank you for pointing out how many of both the Obama and Biden administrations have close ties to the gig companies named here. This is shameful from Democratic administrations. How will these gig workers support themselves when they retire without any social security benefits or Medicare? If the Democrats are able to hold the House and Senate this fall they must make addressing the issues brought up in this excellent piece.
Susan (San Diego, Ca)
@lzolatrov On the contrary, if a job doesn’t support you, do something that does! I think these workers should form coops between themselves. If people refuse to work for exploiters like Uber and Lyft, then they will have no choice but to bargain.
Michael McBrearty (New York, NY)
Here is the contradiction US politics cannot solve. Both Democrats and Republicans are capitalist parties, representing the interests of the businessmen who fund them, and thus intrinsically hostile to the interests of the workers, whose votes they need. This deadlock will continue until young workers organize a new political movement, based on the new independent labor movement. What America needs are Socialist parties representing the working class, like other countries around the world have. That is the only way to stop Fascism.
Foy (Earth)
First of all, Uber CEO both vocally and financially funded Trump during his 2016 campaign. And when the American People began boycotting Uber because he backed Trump, Uber CEO withdrew his emo support. All y’all’s can fat Fact Check that.
Aaron (CA)
I don’t get it? If there was ever a moment where a gig worker could get a regular job, it’s now. Every business is trying to hire! Instead of taking a regular job where they have a direct boss and don’t get to set their own hours, they want to complain about not getting the more benefits that come with a regular job? Oh wait, I do get it. They want both sides — freedom to choose working hours/conditions and someone else to pay. Ummm ok.
SP (minneapolis)
I presume you’ve never called an Uber or a Lyft, then? Once you stop benefitting from the work of the many gig workers your life - like many of our lives - revolves around, report back.
Dannydid it. (Lake Ariel, Penna.)
@Aaron Absolutely; and all workers should be able to flex; have a progressive supervisor, health care and parental leave. Many of the GIG workers are taking care of the children and trying to make ends meet with raising a family in a middle class structure. Oh that's right corporation exec need those million dollar paychecks and big bonus yearly. The minions need to keep quiet and produce, with both parents working at minimum wages.
Dannydid it. (Lake Ariel, Penna.)
@Aaron @Aaron Absolutely; and all workers should be able to flex; have a progressive supervisor, health care and parental leave. Many of the GIG workers are taking care of the children and trying to make ends meet with raising a family in a middle class structure. Oh that's right corporation exec need those million dollar paychecks and big bonus yearly. The minions need to keep quiet and produce, with both parents working at minimum wages.
akamai (New York)
It's Not the White House. It's the GOP. The Democrats and headlines like This don't give the blame where it belongs. That's how the GOP gets the vote of people whose interests lie with the Democrats This Is The Story: "But Mr. Weil was never able to act on his ideas. Amid opposition from Republicans and business groups, the Senate voted him down this year, 53 to 47, with three Democrats, Joe Manchin II of West Virginia and Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, voting no. Gig companies also opposed his nomination, with a now-defunct industry group, the App-Based Work Alliance, lobbying against him. There have been other setbacks. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act has little chance of overcoming a Republican filibuster in the Senate," The headline should be: Republicans Continue to Halt Protections for Gig Workers. Please change it.
JR (Seattle)
Gig workers, either get a job or quit whining. And Biden needs to quit pandering to special interest groups and people who have made real informed choices on what they want to do.
BarryB (Michigan)
Land of the free. It is a biggest joke. You have few large monopolies in town and people that don’t have any other choice are forced to be our economic servants. If they don’t comply they are fired. There is no freedom. This is the only choice they have to survive.
JBT (New York, NY)
The title of this piece unfairly puts the blame on the White House. You have to read the first paragraph “The administration’s plans to strengthen their labor protections have been slowed by Congress, the courts and a lobbying blitz.” to see who the real culprits are. Bad editing or bad intentions, I can’t tell.
D. Renner (Oregon)
@JBT Exactly, so easy to blame the President for not having the powers of a king.
Who cares (The world is lost)
It’s ok. At least I can get a fifth job now because hiring only slowed by a little.
MC (East Bay)
How about this, no representation without taxation? AB5, which protects gig workers in CA caused a huge revolt. Everyone was scrambling for an exemption because gig workers want good paying jobs, but don't want to be taxed.
PL (ny)
Tired of waiting for Biden to fulfill his campaign promises... Don't they know by now that Biden can do only one thing at a time?
akamai (New York)
@PL Which is more than the GOP, which NoThing.
D. Renner (Oregon)
@PL That is simply unfair, every President since the beginning makes promises that are mostly left unfulfilled. Many voters are dumb and think the President has the powers of a King. When the Presidents party doesn't control filibuster proof majorities or when his own party (Manchin/Sinema) don't agree with his priorities then we don't see things completed. But maybe understanding how our government works is too complex for you?
PL (ny)
@D. Renner -- So the gig workers were naive to believe Biden's lies that he'd help them? I can't speak for their understanding of how our government works, but since you questioned mine: besides having a political science degree, I spent most of my life in elective office, and helping others get into elective office. As a Democrat, btw. Ive also observed every presidential administration since JFK, and I would say that no other president of either party has accomplished so little under any circumstances than Joe Biden. His party has majorities in both houses of Congress. He just doesn't know how to lead. More damningly, he doesn't know where he wants to lead. He is a figurehead, placeholder president who was pushed to the front of the primary process by entrenched party bosses who didn't want Sanders or any of the others who would have won handily over Trump. So of course he's pushed in all directions, because his own motley group of aides, appointed more for diversity optics, represent different factions of the party from past administrations, and nothing gets done. In Congress, the whole fractious Democratic Party is jockeying for their positions to dominate, and all we're left with is chaos.
John V (Emmett, ID)
Well, if gig workers are independent contractors, what do they need a union for? Can't they just quit and get a job that pays them just as much or more in an economy that seems to have no shortage of jobs? If Uber and the like didn't have access to people willing to do the work under current terms and conditions, they would have to change or go out of business. These people have choices. As long as they are willing to be abused, people are going to abuse them. In today's economy, that seems silly.
Dannydid it. (Lake Ariel, Penna.)
@John V @Aaron Absolutely; and all workers should be able to flex; have a progressive supervisor, health care and parental leave. Many of the GIG workers are taking care of the children and trying to make ends meet with raising a family in a middle class structure. Oh that's right corporation exec need those million dollar paychecks and big bonus yearly. The minions need to keep quiet and produce, with both parents working at minimum wages.
CJS (Midwest)
It galls me when members of Congress use titles to mask their legislation's true intent. Truth in labeling would require the "Worker Flexibility and Choice Act" be renamed the "Worker's Labor Protection Obliteration Act." "Choice" is the go-to euphemism for legislators wanting to destroy decades-old protections from people most in danger of corporate tyranny. WFCA would undermine rights to paid breaks, overtime for 8+ hour days and 7-day weeks, health care, social security contributions, and the list goes on and on. The benefit of "choice" rests primarily with those already in power: the "choice" to force you to bend to their will in exchange for a less than a living wage.
Mike Low (Oregon)
The thing that worries me every time about situations where one side promises something but the people are impatient and vote for the other side. I would really like to emphasize that we need to be patient. One side is never going to support good labor practices so stick with the side that at least has a track record of supporting the labor community. And keep voting until they make it happen. Remember there are a ton of things people want and you must be patient.
Dannydid it. (Lake Ariel, Penna.)
@Mike Low I am 73 and still waiting for affordable access to Healthcare; pre school ed. for my Grandchildren and life insurance....wait? please....
Lorri (Seattle)
Many temporary and gig workers are older workers, who can't get hired full-time. Ageism is rampant in America. Meanwhile, the mortgage must be paid time, your kids need help, so you take on a temporary job. When you see other people partying on Labor Day, with paid time off, it's a tough pill to swallow, knowing your pay is going to be docked by one day, because as a temp worker, you're not entitled to paid time off. But people will blame you, not the exploitative hirers who exploit non full-time workers.
Julianf (Connecticut)
The solution to this dilemma is a regulatory approach that effectively protect workers while preserving their ability to retain independent contractor status. One complimentary innovative approach allows gig work platforms to take the lead by engaging consumers’ moral reflection to help decide how to improve the economic well-being of their workers, instead of relying solely on the government to legislate the solution subject to the law of unintended consequences. We just authored a new paper on this in Business Horizons which is freely available.
GuyAy (Atlanta)
@Julianf "Moral Reflection" is nice and some of us conduct our lives with that ideal. However, there is a problem, a BIG problem...remind us how many voted for meanness, selfishness, and greed in 2016 and again in 2020.
cdisf (SF)
California passed these protections in AB5, which led to a revolt by ride share drivers who didn’t want to be classified as employees and be told when, how and where they would drive. We then passed AB2257 to exempt not just rode share contractors but many other industries as well. IC’s can’t have their cake and eat it, too. If they want total flexibility, then they can’t be employees and get all the perks as workers who have sometimes onerous rules binding them.
Pottree (Joshua Tree)
The "employment" model for gig workers? In what sense are they "employed"? It might be argued they are more reasonably called subscribers to the booking apps of tech companies, but they are not employees for various reasons, the main one of which is that they assume the business risks usually shouldered by a business with paid workers. The gig workers can set their own schedules realistically only in relation to how much money they need to bring in. They're like little mom and pa shopkeepers who also subscribe to the electric utility or the phone company as a necessary part of their business, yet their income has a ceiling based in how many hours they can work. The "model" is exploitation, made worse by the lack of social benefits across the board in America. On an employment continuum, the gig work setup seems several steps closer to the slavery model than to a jobs model, perhaps somewhere around sharecropper. Using the Internet and the ubiquity of cell phones to circumvent the law is considered, by some, to be clever, but the "model" at its heart is to make money by going around the rules that apply to everyone else ("breaking things"), IOW, organized crime. Workers who are not employees but not exactly contractors, either... is about the same as using real estate zoned and taxed as residential as business property in the airbnb model... and in both scams "save on" ordinary protections like licensing and inspections by pretending to be what they are not.
cdisf (SF)
@Pottree Ride share drivers in California revolted at being converted to employees, and told when, where and how often they would work and having the parameters of their pay determined by someone else. The know it all voters thought they knew better what an entire industry of workers SHOULD value, and they fought back for what they value above all…flexibility. They saw being a W2 employee as modern slavery and won an exemption to AB5. We coastal elites don’t know what is best for other groups despite the nonstop patting ourselves on the back that most give themselves here in the NYT commentariat.
Judy (Canada)
The majority of the population does not want these changes, the majority of gig workers do not want them either, only labor activists want them, and the question is, why? To increase their own power? For the benefit of themselves and the union-favouring segment of the work force, that’s who, against the interests of those who favour gig work, the companies that retain them and the general public. A gig worker such as someone driving for uber works when he/she wants to, follows the uber rules but otherwise has no one to answer to. If the worker is forced to become an employee, he/she will have to answer to uber, he/she may also have to answer to a union, the uber service may suffer and fall into decline, he/she may lose the gig altogether. The democrats owe a lot to Joe Manchin. He saves them from themselves.
Andy (Boston)
Judy I actually do some Uber driving couldn’t agree more with many of your points, the issue is these companies, Uber in particular, tend to treat their drivers poorly. Pay almost no money, no appeal if your kicked off platform, safety is subpar, and although its claimed your independent you have little choice in who/how you pick up passengers. I think Uber has improved with new leadership but it can be challenging. I dont think Uber Drivers want to be employees but they do want to be treated fairly and be able to make a living wage.
Peter Taylor (Lexington, KY)
@Andy What about Lyft?
Judy (Canada)
@Andy I understand completely what you are saying Andy, and I agree with you. And maybe there should be an association of Uber contractors to take on those issues, maybe there already is, I don’t know. But the solution certainly does not require that all drivers become employees.
Cheryl (Cherry Hill, NJ)
These drivers don’t own their own equipment because they don’t own the platform. We’re they true owners of capital then the argument could be made that they are self-employed. I never fail to understand how and why those who profess to own capital (although in my experience there’s very little personal money ever put up) are admired for banding together to protect their interests, but labor is demonized for doing so. Could it be the bill of goods we’ve been sold, the Mother’s milk of capitalism that labor must not act cohesively?
Judy (Canada)
@Cheryl The degree to which the owners of capital can band together to protect their interests is very limited. The limitations are called anti-trust laws. And on matters where they are allowed to band together they cannot force others to band with them.
cdisf (SF)
@Cheryl Without capitalism and the capital to create many of today’s innovative companies such as Uber, there would be far less jobs offering flexibility. Uber has allowed those who want to work a little for extra money, college students, transitioning workers, etc to earn money quickly and on their own schedule without a big commitment.
HSK (Asbury Park)
@judy Capital bands together all the time to make sure the laws and regulations governing their conduct are written to protect their interests.
Luxembourg (Santa Barbara)
Liberals continually assert that the economy is strong. Certainly the unemployment rate is quite low and jobs are plentiful. So if some gig workers do not like their gig situation, why don’t they change it by finding alternative employment. If you want more certain income, take a job with more certain hours and wages.
Steven Hether (Mesa, Arizona)
News flash! Workers that volunteered to be treated like slaves want Biden to rescue them. Try helping yourselves and refuse to work as a gig slave. Its called going on strike. There are twice as many jobs available as there are workers to fill them. I grow exhausted with everyone demanding someone else save them from their bad choices.
PL (ny)
@Steven Hether -- for some people, the need to put food on the table and pay the rent seriously constrains the "choice" part. If an employer is only offering part-time, no-benefits work, many people are desperate enough to "choose" that over nothing.
Lorri (Seattle)
@PL Absolutely, PL! Bad choices, to go to work for what is available now, in order to keep out of the free food tents? You can see by these comments in The NY Times, how people love to blame workers. The so called abundance of jobs available go to a certain subset: and those are young, mostly white workers.
Opalina (Virginia Beach, VA)
Someone please give the definition of a gig worker. Respectfully submitted
PL (ny)
@Opalina -- A gig worker is hired as a temporary worker who is not considered an employee. It's a legal distinction that exempts them from the Fair Labor Standards Act and therefore doesn't require them to be treated fairly -- no paid holidays, no paid vacation days, no sick days, no retirement contributions.
Judy (Canada)
@PL …. no boss, no obligation to work, no employee deductions, run your own affairs, quit whenever you want, maintain your independence.
A Blinkin (Chicago)
@opalina: no one but you even knows whether you show, let alone cares. That's gig work.
Gwen (Philadelphia)
Truth: forcing everyone to be either an entrepreneur or a prole is modern first-world slavery. Not wanting to devote your whole life to career success is not a sign of laziness or bad character. It's an indication that you still have a beating heart and a natural human spirit.
B (DC area)
The headline blames the White House. The subheading blames Congress and the courts.
PL (ny)
@B -- Well, we cant blame the White House for anything, surely. As he will be quick to tell you, Biden's only the president, with a vast array of federal enforcement agencies under his control.
DK (South Delaware)
There is no room for gig workers in America . The GOP want slave labor 5.25 an hour or all for me and none for you mentality .
cdisf (SF)
@DK So California is run by the GOP? Good to know. We passed AB5 to force gig workers to become employees, and they fought back and succeeded in mitigating that with AB2257. No one is paid anywhere near 5.25 an hour, and most of our huge corporations here are run by big donor Dems.
PL (ny)
@DK -- The Democrats hardly care, except to the extent that theses gig workers may be "black and brown."
DK (South Delaware)
@cdisf California in being destroyed by the GOP with their support of coal and oil. Vote GOP they are not for growth just to fill their own pockets. Look at all the red states with 5.25 minimum wages. The GOP won’t help you with them in charge they will end Democracy. I am retired Army and love my country supporters of GOP never put on a uniform in their life.
Matthew (Australia)
The headline says that these workers tire of waiting on the Biden White House because Congress and the courts work too slowly? The mainstream media really ain’t helping it’s case for credibility. Nevermind a number of my comments have not been posted over the last few months. Not impressed NYTimes.
Bryan Phillips (East West Midwest South)
Companies created gig work. Companies ‘disrupted’. Companies created by ‘geniuses’. Right. But the WH gets blamed? Another slanted article.
PL (ny)
@Bryan Phillips -- According to Democratic governing philosophy, the role of the government is to protect the most vulnerable, including from the excesses of capitalism. Fair Labor Standards Act and all that. When Biden was running, you'd think he was campaigning for king -- he promised he'd fix everything. Now, it's "Im only the president. I'm powerless!" An to his loyal apologists, any aticle that calls him out on his failure to act is slanted.
Ginny (MS)
Isn't power to set one's schedule a major selling point of gig work? If one wants the protectionz offered to full-time workers, take a full-time job.
Nyer (NYC)
Please stop using the trite, cutesy, and utterly inaccurate term "gig workers" to refer to paid second-tier workers lacking and benefits and job security! That's what they are! Nothing cute or "gigsy" about their crummy situation.
Phyllis Hunter (Charlottesville, VA)
I have to wonder why the headline blames the Biden administration and the lede line blames, and rightly so, the Congress. Make up your mind, NYT.
Am I the only one tired of the NYT framing that every single thing not perfect in our country is somehow Biden's fault?
cdisf (SF)
@CMC It’s par for the course. The NYT blamed everything on TFG, too, including not stopping Covid before it crossed our borders,
A Blinkin (Chicago)
Or get a real job.
DZ (Wiyot ancestral territory)
I can't be the only one to have noticed that the NYT has a "Business" section, but not a "Labor" section.
Jackie (Naperville)
If you want labor protections, vote democratic up and down the line. The Democratic Party wants a strong middle class and dignity for everyone. The Republican Party wants to allow businesses and billionaires to do anything they want. Human rights are not a priority for Republicans.
HSK (Asbury Park)
@Jackie Sadly, the donor class for Democrats is also made up of the mega millionaire, billionaire class - whose interests are looked after the most by both parties.
sage43 (bmore)
I get so tired of these gig workers who complain about being independent contractors. they want all the freedoms of being self employed while the guarantees of employment. that is not how it works. Trust me that is not how it works. I been a Lyft driver and my current income opportunity is 1099. I know Drivers who make $60,000 plus a year. Lyft or Uber drivers or Dashers you knew what you were signing up for. No one twisted anyone's arm and said you have to do 1099 gig work. If you don't like it go get a job where someone will tell you where to be when to be and what to do. Don't ruin it for those who want to pursue these positions and have the discpline to make it work. Suck it up and stop whining. Truthfully, most people who do these jobs do it part time and appreciate the freedom to work when it works for them; that can only happen as a 1099 independent contractor. If you want a higher income 1099 opportunity then Lyft or Uber those opportunities are out there to for those willing to search them out, work perform and make it happen.
Dannydid it. (Lake Ariel, Penna.)
@sage43 Uber CEO makes 20,000,000 per year plus Bonuses; stock is 30 dollars a share...they will not go out of business but may sell if the Board can raise the stock price; just another "keep the minions nose to the grindstone" so exec's can be super rich.
Marjorie Kramer (Lowell, Vermont)
Tony West is in the center of your photo, an unnamed woman is on the left. I am very excited that workers in this country are standing up for themselves more at Statin Island Amazon and elsewhere. Phew!, to use a wordle comment. More More.
polymath (British Columbia)
"Gig Workers Tire of Waiting for Action From Biden’s White House" Sounds an awful lot more like opinion than news.
PK (Atlanta)
Gig workers chose to work for companies like Uber, Lyft, Doordash, etc. They knew exactly what the employment arrangements are. Why are they ow complaining? If they don't like it, they should go find another job that is full-time.
Pottree (Joshua Tree)
Or even part time.
sage43 (bmore)
I already put one post in. I am not sure if NYTs will post that because I was very pro independent contractor. Back in the day I did a lot of Lyft. The truth is no one forces anyone to work as an independent contractor. If you don't like being self employed go get a job. Forcing these companies to pay driver's minimum wage, benefits, worker's comp, unemployment premiums to the state won't make this a better job for drivers. It will put these companies out of business. They are barely profitable as it is. As is it is a great time part time or full time job that people can work around their schedule. If that goes from independent contractor to employee that all goes away. The truth is these companies all sold venture capitalist they could be highly profitable by using self driving cars. They forgot to mention that technology to be as proficient as a human driver might take another twenty years realize or who knows when.
Nancy Kaplan (West Bloomfield, Michigan)
The headline on this article is ridiculous - it was even worse in my print edition: "Biden Inertia is Frustrating Gig Workers" on B1. The misleading reportage continued on B5 with this headline: "Gig Workers Are Frustrated by Biden's Lack of Action." The sub-head online is much more accurate and should have been the headline. The Biden Administration has been trying to help these workers - and other workers - i many ways. The relative lack of success is due to various circumstances beyond its control (Republican lawsuits and the filibuster, as well as destructive in-fighting among members of the Democratic caucus in the House and in the US labor movement) - but if we can hold the House and increase the Democratic majority in the Senate in the upcoming midterms, we will see much more progress. This is what unhappy gig workers (and the press which is so far failing miserably to cover this and other important issues) should be focused on right now.
David (California)
Do you think Biden may have more important things to worry about?
JerryV (NYC)
Your article explains that, "The administration’s plans to strengthen their labor protections have been slowed by Congress, the courts and a lobbying blitz." But your blaring headline reads, "Gig Workers Tire of Waiting for Action From Biden’s White House". So, your headline, which is all that many people read, blames it on "Biden's White House". There is a bit of a disconnect here.
Robert Salm (Chicago)
My first thought is, there's actually a department called "Wage and Hour Division"? No wonder Republicans think big government is out of control. And how much is their budget, and how many people work for just this one department? As much as I despised President Trump, I had hoped he'd abolish, or that a Republican-led Congress would decimate at the very least, the extraordinarily powerful Labor Relations Board--created decades ago to help keep unions in control.
BayArea101 (Midwest)
Uber loses money on each ride. If it were to treat drivers as employees, it would, presumably, lose even more money on each ride. The company's business model is already highly-questionable; one can assume making it more so would simply sink Uber faster than it's already sinking. No doubt Uber drivers are well aware of all this. Lyft is in the same situation as Uber. Like Uber drivers, Lyft's drivers likely have Plan Bs and Plan Cs in place and ready to go.
Pottree (Joshua Tree)
Uber loses money on each ride but they make it up on the volume. It's the kind of scam that, without the magical electronic glow of its mechanism, would be considered a pump and dump stock swindle.
DK (South Delaware)
The GOP want only cheap 5.25 an hour minimum wage so all you gig workers better join them. The Dems are for growth . The GOP are not look what they let happen to our west coast all in their support of oil and coal.
PK (Atlanta)
@DK The Dems are not for growth. If that was the case, they would not be handing out everything for free to low income people while taxing job creators to death.
Counsel 1 (St. Louis, MO)
Referencing the headline: Gig workers tire of what?? Every time Gig worker protection comes up for a vote, it is shot down by gig workers. Every time a survey is done regarding gig worker "wants", gig workers say they want to be left alone. Not all, certainly, but the gig economy appeals to people who refuse to fit in and think they can do it on their own, at their own schedule, where and when they want. To headline that this class is frustrated with Biden (or any politician) is ridiculous.
FoxyVil (NY)
Again, could you please, please, please be more careful in writing your headlines? Too often, this is the only thing some readers will look at. And this one is a doozy. As others here are noting, the article itself presents a much more complicated situation pointing to that major obstacle to everything for several decades now, GOP obstructionism. This underscores media’s unhelpfulness, as it continues to propagate the “ it’s all Biden’s fault” partisan demagoguery. Since the GOP has turned into a personality cult, it feeds the lies and misinformation that help it garner votes from its deluded supporters. In any case, gig labor, as others also are pointing out here, simply erodes progressive labor initiatives as it has long undermined the collective thrust that workers’ movements necessarily rely on. They embody the conservative, simplistic, retrograde notion of the individual right to labor that has decimated workers’ power against employers. Lastly, many have touted gig labor as an example of Amurrican individualism, gumption, and that sheer entrepreneurship that has made the country so great—never mind that others get shafted in this Darwinian world. One can’t help but sympathize when some workers might feel schadenfreude at gig workers’ conundrum as they have constituted a handy secondary source of services and production that has cut into regular labor’s own, affecting their job security and benefits.
jb (ok)
A pretty odd headline in this article. Gig workers “are tired of waiting for action from the White House,” followed by the subhead saying WH efforts to protect them have been “slowed by Congress, the courts, and a lobbying blitz.” So is it the Biden administration they should be mad at? Or that the headline should suggest? Everything the White House has gotten done for the people has been against powerful Republican and wealth class opposition. This isn’t a presidential dictatorship (yet). But Biden has been out there pitching—and has had remarkable successes in other efforts given that constant, fierce opposition. I hope for his success too in overcoming this latest hurdle, because these workers need help. But if they blame Biden’s administration, they’ll be blaming the people who are trying for them.
Becky (Boston)
Gig workers may be tired of waiting for Biden, but headlines like these encourage people to vote for Republicans who will do NOTHING to help!
Bohemian Sarah (Footloose in Eastern Europe)
There is a lack of consensus on whether the current system exploits gig workers? For crying out loud, the situation with gig work makes Dickens look like Pollyanna. I’m too overwhelmed by the lack of action to go into details. Just ask anyone you know who’s trying to make a living at this for more than the first year. Gig work makes my turn-of-the-century great grandmother’s piecework drudgery seem like a dream job. What a nightmare we’re living in.
Andrew (NYC)
People, you can’t work 15 hours a week and expect a company to provide you with Google level benefits.
Lorri (Seattle)
@Andrew Most gig workers want to work more than 15 hours a week.
Mack (Los Angeles)
We should understand that President Obama and his cronies (like Valerie Jarrett) and President Biden (who may have the second most incompetent, non-aligned staff in Presidential history are people with absolutely zero training or experience in leading or managing anything. Even a concept as simple as envisioning desired future states, defining incremental steps toward that state, and executing against such a plan is foreign to them. Trump should already have been indicted, arrested, and awaiting trial. But, Biden cannot lead, and Garland is not “a wartime consigliere.” How many “Funded by Biden Infrastructure Act” signs or social media job announcements have we seen? Close to zero Biden is like a quarterback given a fumble recovery on his opponent’s ten yard line who cannot put the ball across the goal line. At least once an hour, Mr Biden should ask himself “What would Lyndon Johnson do?”
M.A.A (Colorado)
There are much bigger issues to attend to than this niche hyper-specific need from a tiny demographic. Get a better "gig" if it's so rough, or learn to live with it an accept the reality that much, much bigger problem exist than you.
Jeffrey (Pa)
Well to speed things up let's everyone vote blue this mid-term.
Deirdre (New Jersey)
I sincerely hope that all gig workers vote and turn out this year and every one after that. The republicans want to prosecute you for abortion, they want to take away your healthcare, they want to overturn your vote and block you from the polls. They won’t make Election Day a paid holiday, they won’t schedule it on the weekend, they will only give tax breaks to the employees who lay you off, cut your hours and your benefits. It has never been a more clear choice than it is right now. 147 elected republicans voted against Biden’s electoral win after the Jan6 insurrection- that very night. Vote out republicans and free America from obstruction.
Pottree (Joshua Tree)
Imagine the horrified reaction among Republicans if someone proposed making Election Day a national holiday... instead of the specifically Christian religious holiday of Christmas (remember the establishment clause, a relative of Santa Claus?).
Larry M (Minnesota)
Why is this headline blaming Biden when Republicans are essentially unanimous in their opposition to anything that benefits working people?
Brian (MA)
The current gig economy would be OK if we had public healthcare. We don't so it isn't.
cdisf (SF)
@Brian Obamacare, which Biden says is great, is available to everyone. You can make up to $48,000 and have fully subsidized healthcare. I don’t think Obamacare is good, but the head of the Democratic Party says it is.
David (Pacific Northwest)
Seriously, NYT, this is front page pressing national problem for this administration? nothing else happening in the world for POTUS to fix? Labor organizing starts with the workers, and reforming state by state their independent contractor rules and statutory definitions. Nationally, this is first on Congress to legislate, and it thereafter for an administration to work into the rules. Put the focus where it needs to be. Reform can't and doesn't start with POTUS.
AndyW (Chicago)
While we’re at it, how about somebody force all the cities in America to give the exorbitant fees they previously charged traditional taxi cab operators for licenses to operate. Uber and Lyft Were able to grow so explosively only because they were given extremely unfair regulatory advantages over existing transportation providers. Now that everybody finally wants to regulate them, it’s politically and economically very tough to do. The same goes for Airbnb and the way it warped the housing market while simultaneously ripping a hole in the far more heavily regulated and taxed hotel industry. People certainly do deserve to have fresh options and it’s great that new business models born of technology were able to flourish. Politicians should also be addressing the realities of what’s going on in these new marketplaces far closer to real time, instead of trying to put the genie back in the bottle 10 or 15 years after the fact.
Easterner In Oregon (Oregon)
Sounds like these folks want to have it both ways: the flexibility to chose work hours and assignments that independent contractors have, with the wages and benefits that employees have. Achieving the latter will cause them to lose the former, eg they will probably have to start working scheduled shifts and take whatever assignments they are given. (And, by the way, unlike cab drivers, these folks don’t have to do pickups in all neighborhoods). Many of them are attracted to gig work because of the freedom. They can’t have it both ways.
Drew (NY)
Change happens through the political process. I just finished working on a primary campaign for Congress. The turnout rate (among enrolled Democrats) was...wait for it...14%. We're going to have to do (a lot) better than that to improve the quality of life in this country.
Lorri (Seattle)
I would like to see someone address the exploitation of temporary office workers. Deprived of long term benefits and vacation perks, office workers toil away at the whim of the hiring firm. You might be promised a three-month gig, then let go after several weeks. Or, you're assigned tasks like cleaning up the kitchen, in addition to the spreadsheets you thought you'd be creating. The temporary firm who pays your wages will not help you; they will do anything to keep their client happy. Where is the outrage about these workers?
channa (ca)
@Lorri They have a choice. They can quit and look for better work. We have pretty full employment right now and jobs. The choice is theirs.
Lorri (Seattle)
@channa You presume that everyone who applies for a job gets hired. Wrong. But it's convenient to blame job seekers, isn't it? There must be something wrong with them.
Pat (Roseville CA)
The law should apply evenly to all people. So if Uber and Lyft drivers must be employees then so must taxi drivers, nurses that work through the registry, and lets not forget freelance writers.
Yes that is why California’s gig worker rights law AB5 was a huge mess with large swaths wanting to be exempted from the forced unionization (er, worker protection) racket
A Blinkin (Chicago)
We don't need to make low skill work attractive. It's preposterous to have college graduates driving around all day, going where the computer tells them to go and how to get there. I don't want to encourage the gig economy. I want to abolish it
Pottree (Joshua Tree)
We all know that within a few short years these gig workers will surely be replaced by even more docile slaves in the form of autonomous cars and trucks. The problematic humans will be replaced by machines anywhere it is easier and more profitable to do so... and the pace of replacement will only accelerate. So, the neoNazis who today are chanting the Jews or the Mexicans or the H1B workers will not replace us will soon shift their misaligned concerns to machines, and like the Luddites, throw their wooden shoes into the knitting machines. This is the march if history. Taxi!
rjs7777 (NK)
If gig jobs are converted to regular jobs (essentially, outlawing gig work as such), then it will expand the pool of applicants, meaning many of the less-qualified people will exit the labor force. Their career will have been prohibited by law. That’s where this goes.
Michael Green (Brooklyn)
I often ask people to describe the world they would like to see develop. You need a vision to shoot for if you want to create positive change. Generally, no one answers. Who would have thought in the 1980s that a huge segment of our working age population would be employed riding around on electric bikes delivering food or driving Ubers. When I grew up. that wasn't considered a career. Kids delivered pizza. People took private cars, buses, trains, or yellow cabs. If tech companies are successful in developing self driving cars, trucks and drones, all of these jobs will disappear. Paint me a picture of the US and NYC in 2035.
Michael (Ottawa)
The wages and benefits for the Gig workers, temp employees, and those in the service industries are being undermined by Biden's refusal to control the borders. And all this talk about labour shortages is a corporate dog whistle for more cheap foreign labour - legal or not. The real answer is that there is a labour shortage of people who are willing to work for peanuts, which is why so many employers want to continually flood the labour markets. If America decided to control both legal and illegal immigration, wages would slowly rise as more employers would realise that the gravy train for a continuance of cheap foreign labour is over and that they'll have to start hiring more American citizens and legal residents - while providing training, higher wages and benefits. If Biden honestly wants to raise the living standards and provide better wages for the poor people, he would start enforcing the e-verify system. He could have phased it in gradually to give companies time to adjust to having an entirely legal workforce. This would raise the price of goods and services for consumers, but that is required to raise the living standard for the poor and create a more egalitarian society. After all, it's America's poor and working class citizens that having been paying the price for illegal immigration, but politicians in both Parties won't address this because it's contrary to the interests of their corporate donors.
John (San Francisco)
It find it difficult to believe that gig workers are “exploited.” Each one of them, every time they open the app and offer a ride, is choosing of their own free will to do so. They re-up on the job every minute of every day. It is hugely flexible and convenient. Labor market openings are at all time highs. If they wanted to do something else, they could certainly do so. These business models don’t work under the employment model because they rely on carefully balancing supply and demand at all times. They are not very profitable - almost all their revenue gets paid back to the drivers. I’m not sure where these activists think the money would even come from.
sedanchair (Tacoma WA)
@John Now, explain how that model is any different from that of an indigent rickshaw bearer. It's all free choice, right? Except free choice with few alternatives has a name, it's called peonage.
Reasoned analysis (San Francisco)
@sedanchair the job market has been on a record boom for a while now. So “few alternatives” doesn’t hold water
John (San Francisco)
@sedanchair 1. Gig drivers make 20-30 dollars an hour, at any time of day of their choosing. They also, on average, work less than 8 hours a week. I know which job I would prefer. Frankly, I'd also prefer gig work to working in most retail and restaurant jobs. 2. "few alternatives?" get real - DoorDash didn't even exist a decade ago, nor did the whole category. Workers have more alternatives today from being able to DO gig work than they did before. This industry hasn't displaced any jobs at all - it has created them where there were none. If your criticism is of low-paying jobs in general, then sure, we can complain about capitalism and the state of human affairs. But I'm not sure why gig work is being singled out when its a great alternative to fixed schedule, minimum wage jobs.
California tried this via AB5 and there have been *many* unintended consequences that left many groups clamoring to be exempted. Labor unions are salivating at change to unionize gig workers. That’s who’s pushing this. Truck drivers protested being forced into it and it exacerbated supply chain crises. Biden is wise to stay away from such poor policy that can’t even work in progressive lab experiment of California.
Viv (From OC)
I did gig work for a long time. I did it in part for the flexibility to choose when I would work.
HSK (Asbury Park)
The economic theories of Reaganism (essentially pro-capital and anti-labor) have been so deeply embedded into the American psyche that you have so called Democrats in these comments siding with silicone valley billionaires over workers. We need a true Labor Party in this country.
Michael (Ottawa)
@HSK The U.S. is a plutocracy that alternates between two political Parties that both cater to corporate interest and the wealthy at the expense of lower income and working class Americans. The gap between the rich and the poor has continued to widen - no matter which Party holds power. It would take a revolution to overturn the two-Party system that ensures the continuance of the status quo.
rjs7777 (NK)
@HSK I wouldn’t call it Reaganism; it might as well be called adulthood, rationality, separation of business and state, and community success.
Brian (MA)
@rjs7777 Your comment kind of reinforces their point that a pro capital outlook has been deeply embedded into the American psyche if you say it's synonymous with adulthood, rationality, separation of business and state, and community success. That means a pro-labor outlook is now an aberration to the norm.
Tom (Far from okay)
Unfortunately, I believe the situation for workers must become much worse before it gets better. Some still believe in the pipe dream that they can become the person who runs the machine if they just work had enough. If workers foolishly dream of becoming that billionaire, then these workers will allow any form of degradation and humiliation such as the inhuman way that independent contractors are treated in this country. I should know I have been one longer than Uber and Lyft have been around. In Florida, the employer does not even have to pay into social security. If Americans follow this model, we will return to a MAGA time before social security: streets and sidewalks filled with elderly, homeless people. On another point, after reading this article, I would like to nominate kyrsten sinema as the worst person in the federal government. At least you know what to expect with Moscow Mitch. She hides behind the Democrat label. Her time in the senate is like watching Keri Russell in the Americans series, only not as compelling.
Civil Citizen (Asheville)
Little known fact, most of the country’s emergency medicine physicians are gig workers / 1099s without any company provided insurance or benefits. What does that say about our nation and healthcare?
DickeyFuller (Boston)
@Civil Citizen Right but what's their hourly rate? I'm OK paying my own 15.3% payroll taxes + my insurance if I'm making $150+K / year.
Brian (MA)
@DickeyFuller $150K a year sound pretty low for someone who took on the time and expense of a medical degree. I make around that with a bachelor degree and a 9-5 job and I get insurance and benefits and I have no massive loans to pay back. I thought doctors got paid a lot as medical school is hugely expensive and difficult?
rjs7777 (NK)
@DickeyFuller the going rate for ER physicians in a major hospital is $200/hr or roughly $400k/year. Unqualified, uninformed government partisans should stay out of people’s lives.
NeilDSmith (USA)
Gig workers, bless their hearts, are the ones undermining the work life for the rest of us. I have little sympathy for them. They should get real jobs.
Nick Wheeler (Norfolk, Va.)
Can't let the common laborers have a voice. It would cut into the profits.
Jonathan (USA)
So the headline says it's the fault of the White House, but the article says it's the fault of Congress, lobbyists and courts. The truth is in there. It's Congress, still owned by industry donors, that refuses to do what's best for Americans . . . again. Solution: Elect Democrats, the pro-America party.
Nancy Kaplan (West Bloomfield, Michigan)
@Jonathan rather than say it's Congress, I would say it's Republicans in Congress (aided and abetted by a handful of Democrats)
BayArea101 (Midwest)
@Jonathan Rah-Rah...Sis-Boom-Bah!
Jonathan (USA)
@Nancy Kaplan I agree that the presence of politicians that will vote against anything proposed by Democrats without even reading the legislation or acknowledging the facts is a major problem. But unfortunately, many Democrats base their votes on the wishes of their donors too. I'm referring to food policies, agricultural policies, energy policies and ethics policies, among others.
MJS (Atlanta)
August 8, 2020, Whole Foods in Atlanta fully integrated the gig worker shoppers from Amazon in its Atlanta area stores. My daughter was hired in May for one of the $15/hr shopper jobs at first she was hired for it to be full time with benefits. On the first day she told them she needed to be only part time in the fall for school. They quickly switched her to that taking away her benefits except she can still contribute to the 401k with no match ( I make her maximize that). ( I would have waited until right before schools to ask for partime). She told me the training films were rapidly anti union, with all sorts of warning about organizing. I worked in a grocery store in NY with mandatory retail clerks membership, so this is so off putting to me. They had a hard time getting the Amazon contract shoppers to flip over to Whole Foods employees, because they liked their ability to pick and choose shifts of as little as 2 hrs at a time. My daughter was being scheduled for 4 am to 8 am or noon shifts then 6-10 the next day, followed by 4am. She said I can’t do that. Finally now they decided to just schedule her for the two weekend days then she can pick other available shifts. That was the only way they got some of the Amazon gig workers to switch to just schedule them for a couple of days and let them pick up on a first come the 4 hr shifts they want. She said now everyone is part time as a shopper in the store and no one has benefits. You have to give people choice
DickeyFuller (Boston)
@MJS Legally you must work 30 hours / week to be on a group health insurance plan.
Clarence Williams (Colorado Springs)
As usual, labor extremists within the Democratic Party think it's a good idea when workers can have it both ways, be independent contractors who set their own work schedules and be paid like non-independent wage earners. I voted for Joe Biden because he sees through that illogical, socialist style thinking.
Jonathan (USA)
@Clarence Williams As usual, an uninformed and intellectually dishonest commenter blames Democrats for what Republicans have caused.
Bob (San Francisco)
If you don't like your job then quit and do something else. If you can't find another job then perhaps you are not a special sparkle pony after all. The fig economy exists so people can have part time jobs, side jobs, and earn extra cash. That's why it's the gig economy and the employee economy. Let's not destroy jobs for one group of people because another doesn't have the skills required to get a full time job.
Jonathan (USA)
@Bob Isn't that the same thing that industrialists said to their employees who died from industry accidents, who worked for wages that wouldn't keep a homeless person fed, who worked seven-day weeks at 16 hours a day, and who had families to take care off.
Howard Solomon (Rochester NY)
A HUGE step to solving the most challenging part of being a freelancer (I am one) would be public healthcare benefits. It's the simple.
M (GA)
While I absolutely agree there should be public healthcare, it still doesn't let employers off the hook who feed at the public trough for benefits and keep all the profits. (Individual's freelancing is a different kettle of fish of course.)
Ben Dorrigan (Bend, Oregon 🏔️)
@Howard Solomon Yes, that's part of the reason we got the ACA. Starting 12 years ago, people can get a health-care plan separate from their employment. It's great.
Vince (NY)
Real estate agents have been deemed to be independent contractors for years even though required to have their license held at a brokerage firm and most are at huge companies like Coldwell Banker and Remax. This status prevents those companies from having to pay and salary and all benefits, including health care, while profiting from their work. Simply unfair.
Viv (From OC)
Except realtors make a ton of money. One commission and you’re good for a year.
Amelia (NYC)
The average home price in the U.S. is just south of $350k. Split the commission with the other agent, you're looking at about $10k per deal, with some going to the brokerage. I'm not so sure it's the lucurative career you imagine it to be. Million Dollar Listing may not represent the reality of being a realtor in Topeka.
BayArea101 (Midwest)
@Vince What's unfair are the commissions. In many other parts of the world, they're 1-2%, not the 5-6% they are here.
sub (new york)
There's one basic issue in all this - our social benefits model based on corporations providing benefits is wrong and doesn't work in the global free trade era which benefits corporations more than citizens. Unfortunately, this is not just Uber issue. More and more Americans have been impoverished by the global free trade and pushed to part-time or lower paying service jobs with odd hours and less benefits.
Atticus (Elsewhere, UP)
It’s hard not to see the inside influence of the former Obama officials and various Democratic Party marriages as key obstacles to resolving this quandary. The labor status of gig workers needs to be clarified so that the true economic value of tech mediated employment is known. Gig work is not new. During every period of soft economic expansion employers opt to hire contract workers in lieu of full time employees. Due to existing labor law in the professions most employers transition contract workers to employees as soon as their workload rebounds, allowing people to plan a better future and removing the cloud of potential labor complaints arising from overtime work. It appears that corporate Democrats and (of course) Republicans don’t want to see the same protections their economic class enjoys being extended to gig workers in blue collar fields.
deb (inWA)
@Atticus 'a recent court decision that extended a Trump-era rule making it easier for companies like Uber to argue their workers should be classified as independent contractors under federal law.' Cherry-picking is for orchards, not adult discussion.
Michael (New York)
I work as an independent contractor by choice. I understood what I was getting into when i decided to go that route over 20 years ago, healthcare costs, self employment taxes, no unemployment benefits, wildly fluctuating income, etc. I don't understand why these drivers insist on being employees? If they are not treated well, don't make enough money, are responsible for their own benefits, stop driving for these companies! If they lose 50% of their drivers, they may will need another plan, but there is no such thing as legal indentured servitude in this country and the workers in these areas can vote with their feet.
Her we go again (USA)
I seem to remember that California recently had a ballot proposal to help gig workers. It failed.
Clown Dream (NC)
If you own your own equipment, work when you want, take off when you want, have no supervisor, and can decline any assignment for any reason, how are you not an independent contractor?
Jwyly (Denver)
The other side of this is that the company does control their work. And they are essential to the company’s business. It isn’t as if they have a fleet of cars and drivers on staff and then contractors fill the void like what is typically done. So if the drivers are integral to Lyft’s services or Grubhub for example and the work could not get done without them, how are they not employees?
Rajkamal Rao (Bedford, TX)
@Jwyly Both contractors and employees are essential in modern business - but that doesn't mean one is the same as the other. I use three contractors for my small business - and I am at their mercy if they decline to work my stated hours. It's a risk I take so that I don't have to pay a full salary, something I can't afford. But I pay them nearly twice the rate that I would for a full-time employee for the flexibility - theirs and mine.
sub (new york)
@Clown Dream If I can work for a multitude of companies or home owners directly, my independent work is fine. If Uber or Lyft are the only choices for work, then I lose. An alternate way is to make apps charge a flat fee for referral Or subscription fee, not a cut off their revenue. Some of the tech companies want a huge cut off the revenue for work done by others even though they have nothing really to do with that other renting the space.
Dwayne (Brooklyn, NY)
So, if gig workers are arguing that Uber drivers get these benefits, are they also arguing that all gig jobs should, like freelance graphic designers? It would set a precedent.
Deirdre (New Jersey)
Voting has never been more important than it is this year. Maga republicans running for governor, Secretary of State and congress have promised to relitigate 2020 and don’t have a single plank in their policy agenda. It’s a stark choice this year with democrats trying to move us all forward and maga republicans tormenting violence with pardons. Republicans have voted against Climate change Infrastructure Negotiating prescription drug prices Fixed pricing for insulin Investing in US manufacturing Right to Access birth control Right to access abortion Voting rights Gay marriage The ACA Reasonable Gun Control and the banning of assault weapons.
BayArea101 (Midwest)
@Deirdre "Voting has never been more important than it is this year." 'This is the most important election in our nation's history.' 'This is the most important election in your lifetime.' 'This is the most important election ever.' We hear some version of this mantra every four years. Are we now going to hear it every two years? Except for young people, it lost its potency as a message a long time ago. It's been repeated so much for so long that it's lost its meaning. And it certainly doesn't seem to have worked with young people, has it, as they still fail to reliably turn out on voting day.
Deirdre (New Jersey)
Without enough of a majority to overcome the filibuster we are locked in to needing to win elections because the other side refuses to govern unless it is for pro corporate judges or for tax breaks for the wealthy Maga republicans want us to be serfs and mad about it. Democrats want to give you healthcare and education and job training, the right to vote and the right to your reproductive freedom.
Susan C (Arizona)
@BayArea101 Not true! I'm 72 and have been through plenty of elections. If the young people don't vote, we will lose the country and we will be under authoritarianism. The earth will burn and flood and food will disappear as well as the life in the oceans. When I was in my early 20s we voted to stop the Vietnam war - we made our voices heard. This is the most important election ever. Reread the constitution - relearn how our ancestors settled this country to get away from authoritarianism and be free. Once the Repubs take away our authority to choose our leaders and our destiny through voting we are finished! There will be no turning back. Once the press is silenced, we are destroyed. And climate change will persist and grow faster. What kind of a life will that be - for everyone.
Brody (NYC)
If Biden follows his usual playbook, he will eventually resort to some questionable executive action of dubious legality, as he has done several times, to appease the progressives on this issue.
Misty Trisfal (Oklahoma)
You mean the Biden that created the greatest climate change bill in history. You mean the Biden that reduced the deficit by 1.7 trillion dollars - the greatest reduction in history. You Lena the Biden that finally reduced drug costs in Medicare by negotiating prices. You mean that Biden?
Viv (From OC)
Unlike his predecessor, he makes few exec actions, preferring legislation.
DickeyFuller (Boston)
@Brody If Mitch would not block every single thing that the Senate proposes, Presidents would not have to resort to Exec Orders. Please educate yourself on how things work . . .
John Rice (Pittsburgh PA)
Gig work, an option for some and sometimes the only work possible for others, could improve if the US had National Single Payer Health Insurance. Health insurance expenses that might be covered by the employer are all passed to the gig worker who receives none of the benefits that might come with regulation of the gig companies. Health insurance tied to a job is not ideal for employee or employer. It is an anomaly here in the US that isn't present in other industrialized nations.
domvr yj I agree, but since it is unlikely in the near future, at least the Federal Government should allow premiums for private insurance be fully tax deductible as they are for employed workers.
Cali Girl (LA)
@ Ginny - what’s being discussed is affordable insurance premiums for gig workers and not an NHS model. But go on…
D. Jones (Decatur, GA)
@Ginny And how is it any difference here in the USA? If you have halfway decent health insurance you still wait weeks and months for doctors appointments and elective( and sometimes not elective) surgeries) My wife needs a hystoroscopy to determine why she has post menstrual bleeding at age 66. We've been told there are no surgical appointments available until November.
Donald Driver (Green Bay)
Luckily, citizens actually have the right to work as gig workers or not. No one is forcing you to take those jobs. Many make good money, and have very flexible schedules. It's not a bad way to supplement your earnings. I know many college students who will door dash at a moment's notice to earn some extra cash. I'm okay with States debating this. But I hate when the federal government comes in with its top down approach to everything. Big government can't keep its hands to itself.
Socrates (Downtown Verona, NJ)
Amid opposition from Republicans and business groups, the Senate voted down Biden's nominee David Weil (an expert in labor policy and a professor, to serve as administrator of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, a post he held under President Barack Obama) 53 to 47, with three Democrats, Joe Manchin II of West Virginia and Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, voting no. So adding three more Democratic Senators could make a real difference on the labor issue. And adding any Republican Senators will ensure more feudalism. The Democrats are flawed, but they are not in the oligarchs tank the way the Republican Party is. If you want to be treated with an ounce of economic and human dignity in this country, the only choice in our flawed system is to vote Democratic. Republicans simply do not like paying for their fare share of labor or taxation or civilization. Nice GOPeople.
Carlos R. Rivera (Coronado CA)
@Socrates "If you want to be treated with an ounce of economic and human dignity in this country, the only choice in our flawed system is to vote Democratic."---are you saying that the recent IRA passage with NO GOP votes is a blessing for Medicare patients? If it was, then Biden would have started the drug prescription benefits on 1 January 2023 instead of 2025 and 2026, right?
D. Jones (Decatur, GA)
@Carlos R. Rivera it wasn't Biden's choice to make. Congress makes the laws. I'm sure you can thank the so- called moderates of the DP for the the delayed implementation.
BayArea101 (Midwest)
@Socrates That's right, the Democrats are only 3/4 in the tank for Wall Street and the Evil Corporations. Go Dems!
Rob Brown (Keene NH)
Wonder how long it will take the American consumer to realize we are a nation Of the Corporation, By the Corporation For the Corporation. Nah too busy eating ice cream blaming the woke for all their disappointments.
AS (Princeton, NJ)
All these commenters who say gig workers should vote forget about Prop 22. Over 22 million CA voters (over 80% of registered voters) turned out to vote and nearly 10 million (59%) of those voters decided that ride-share drivers should NOT be entitled to employee benefits. Proposition 22 was a 2020 ballot initiative in CA which passed with 59% of the vote & granted app-based transportation and delivery companies an exception to the CA law requiring most workers to be classified as “employees.” And no, the voters weren’t duped by ads and lobbying - they knew exactly what it meant if rideshare drivers must be paid more as employees: more expensive rides. At the end of the day, a solid majority of the American people - as represented by liberal CA- have decided they want their cheap rides more than they want gig workers to have employee protections. While I wish gig workers the best of luck, the people have already spoken and I doubt politicians have any appetite to risk re-election by championing a cause a very solid majority of voters do not support.
mjbtucson (tucson)
@AS Great comment, very well explained. So, maybe gig workers will walk away from that gig if the job doesn't work for them. I hope they do, actually.
Max (LA)
@AS I saw the barrage of television advertising against Prop 22, ads slyly and lavishly funded by Uber and Lyft. They all featured likable yet angst-ridden, putatively real drivers begging voters to vote against the proposition. It was positively Orwellian and a dramatic argument against direct democracy. I saw little evidence of Californians deciding to vote against drivers to keep cheap rides (which have since evaporated anyway, unsurprisingly, as they were a market-share grab against existing services).
mjbtucson (tucson)
@Max Thank you!
Alan (West Palm Beach)
Let's treat adults like adults; gig workers knew the rules when they took the gig, same rules as self employed folks everywhere. don't like gig work? Get a regular job with definable pay and bennies, use the gig to supplement
Smilodon7 (Gilead, The State Formerly Known As Missouri)
We ended up with gig jobs because we couldn’t find regular jobs with benefits. Nobody wants to give those to employees anymore!
DickeyFuller (Boston)
@Smilodon7 There are -still- two open positions for every unemployed person looking for work. If you really want a job, there is one out there . . .
Alan (West Palm Beach)
@Smilodon7 if you couldnt find regular jobs in 2021 and 2022 with record low unemployment and employers complaining they cant find workers it sounds like either a) you dont want regular work or b) you spent your adolescence and adulthood refusing to invest in marketable skills. Who couldn't find a regular job in 2021-22? Would love to see your resume
Sparky (Mi)
How did people in the past survive without fast food delivered to their doorstep?
Chip (Wheelwell, Indiana)
@Sparky well, if old or immune compromised, they died of Covid.
Steve725 (NY, NY)
It's a myth that job applicants get to negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment. All they can do is shop themselves around to the highest bidder; but when every employer in a geographic area has effectively colluded with each other to not offer full-time employment with benefits, then workers have to take what they can get to survive. That's why workers are finally waking up to the fact that the only way we get to negotiate the terms and conditions of employment is by joining a union.
Jackie (Naperville)
@Steve725 And only the Democratic Party will protect their right to join a union. Vote for Democracy. Vote Democratic.
One of the most onerous disadvantages of gig working comes not from companies but from the Federal Government: Gig workers have to pay double F.I.C.A. tax compared to employed workers. Yes, half of "Self-employment tax" can be deducted from taxable income, but that offset has little effect unless one is in a very high tax bracket.
Chris (Missouri)
Yes, an it has been that way for a long time. When I did consulting work on the side starting many years ago, I had to pay the full FICA/SS load on that income. If you want SS benefits later you have to qualify by paying the taxes earlier. If you don't want to pay the full amount, you organize, form a union, and become bona fide employees. But then there is a loss of ability to work at your own terms. It is a choice.
Bryan Phillips (East West Midwest South)
Pretty misleading. Companies created gig work exactly so they would not have to pay their share.
DickeyFuller (Boston)
@Bryan Phillips But that is why the effective hourly rate is ~7.15% higher or more to compensate for the out of pocket.
Chris Lawrence (Ottawa)
I can't help but think that the "independent contractor" issue, and all of it inherent ability for corporations to mistreat or underpay their workforce without repercussions, will be a significant obstacle against labor equity for the next generation to overcome. It seems like less of an issue right now because it's primarily driving and delivery services, so it's easy to turn a blind eye to the rights of the people who are providing inexpensive food, but as technology advances so will the ability to create new contractual style jobs in a wider range of fields. If we, as citizens, don't lay out the guidelines that employers use to fairly treat this new type of worker it'll be the corporations that do it. This isn't a problem that we can wait to address, it needs to be dealt with before mistreatment of the gig workforce is the accepted norm.
David (Kalamazoo)
Gig work is the exact opposite of what American workers need. Instead of less stable positions with less worker power, the American worker needs strong unions to stand against the, "oh, no, he's going to say it," class warfare that the monied "elites" have been waging against the working class (99%) for ages now. The effects of Covid have provided the worker with a chance to flex their individual and collective muscles. We cannot let that momentum subside. Workers unite and everyone profits.
DickeyFuller (Boston)
I hope that they all voted. Because without more Democrats in Congress, nothing is going to change for the better.
GuyAy (Atlanta)
Dream on. No one can force a company to make employees out of independent contractors. You know what the deal is going in. If you don't like it, leave. That's the American way isn't it? And silicone valley oligarchs are taking advantage of it!
Harvey Botzman (Rochester NY)
I want to remind labor issue journalists and labor unions that per diem substitute teachers are gig workers. In general per diem substitute teachers are paid a state's minimum wage, usually are not evaluated for a contracted teaching position, or even a long term substitute teaching position. Generally teachers' contracts do not include even basic provisions for health insurance, freedom of speech, membership in a state teachers' pension program (in NYS membership in the pension program has to be offered to the per diem substitute teacher), grievance procedures, etc.
Andrew (Indiana)
@Harvey Botzman That should change, substitute teachers are vital to our country.
Smilodon7 (Gilead, The State Formerly Known As Missouri)
And that’s why nobody wants to be a substitute teacher anymore
sedanchair (Tacoma WA)
@Harvey Botzman What's your point? Workers negotiate for themselves, not for the entire united world and the Care Bears to boot. That's advocacy. And your point is nothing but a corporate wrecker's attempt to gum up the truth.
Mem Remzi (Maryland)
There is a simple way to find out what drivers really prefer; let them vote to be employees or not in an election run by the labor Dept.
So the only solution is to vote in Democrats during the midterms , but somehow the President gets blamed for something out of his control. And then a lot of these people don’t vote or, worse, imagine that the very people not allowing legislation to pass will somehow help them.
William Penn (Delaware Valley)
@LETMYPEOPLEGONOW!🔴⚪️🔵 Political clout depends on organized groups who vow to vote in a bloc. The gig workers will get nowhere without that power of organized clout -- such as trade associations or unions provide for their members.
See also