I suppose I should be happy that the #gigeconomy is at least being mentioned by some of the presidential candidates. That said, I am disappointed with their frame of reference.
Mayor Pete has been the one who has proposed allowing gig workers to unionize. In so doing, he had made the mistake which many people do, which is viewing the very diverse population of independent workers as a single cohort. It may be that portions of the on-demand gig worlds of drivers and delivery folks may incline toward a union. At the same time, many don’t; my informal survey of the Uber and Lyft drivers I use is that the majority value the flexibility contractor status affords. Moreover, for many it is a side hustle, a fact that is often overlooked. But, as I say in my book, Thriving in the Gig Economy, even though the travails of teh Uber drivers gets all the press, the gig marketplace is so much more than drivers. My educated guess is that the web designers, freelance writers, SEO experts, executive coaches, marketing consultants, make-up artists and event planners, to name just a few, are not likely to be terribly interested in the prospect of unionization.
Certainly, these workers would be interested in access to better benefits through portability or innovation in the financial services marketplace. My personal favorite is modernization of mortgage originations, so that 1099s can be just as valid to qualify for a mortgage as a W2. There is progress on this one, if you want to check out one of my old blog posts. New fin tech products aimed at easing income variability would also be welcome by many as well. Similarly, a real bonus to veteran consultants would be the ability to be clearly designated legally as a contractor, so as not to have to jump through compliance hoops with multiple clients.
With that in mind, I sent Mayor Pete a letter today with my book in hopes that he – or more likely a staffer – would read through it and get a better sense of the expanse of the #gigeconomy. After all, not only are independent worker part of the #futureofwork, they are voters as well. In fact, according to the 2018 Freelancing in America survey put out by Upwork, 72% of the Independent workers, which are estimated now at nearly 57 million Americans, would switch parties to vote for a candidates who support freelancer interests. The candidates just have to make sure they understand the breadth and depth of what those interest may be.