The on-demand economy and the 1099 workers that companies like Uber rely is now an issue in the U.S. Presidential race.
Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton weighed in on the topic in a speech on Monday.
In a comment that seems aimed at companies like Uber who pay their workers as independent contractors instead of employees, she vowed to “crack down on employers who misclassify workers as independent contractors,” calling it “wage theft,” according to Techcrunch. But she stopped short of naming any companies.
“Fair pay and fair scheduling, paid family leave and earned sick days, child care are essential to our competitiveness and growth,” Clinton reportedly said. The former Secretary of State is the leading candidate in the Democratic field but is facing a challenge from the left in the form of self-described socialist Bernie Sanders.
In her speech, Clinton said the “so-called gig economy is creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation,” according to the report. But she countered by saying it was raising tough questions about protections for workers and even the future of the concept of a good job.
The debate over the classification of Uber’s workers has raged for months, but little concrete had been decided until last month, when the California labour commission ruled that an Uber driver was an employee, not an independent contractor.
The commission sided with Uber driver Barbara Ann Berwick primarily because it considered Uber to be “involved in every aspect of the operation.” Berwick was awarded over than $US4,000 for her employee expenses.
Berwick has since launched Rideshare School, which promises to teach “drivers from ridesharing services how to enforce their rights as employees and reclaim funds for driving expenses, overtime, and more.” A three-hour class will cost $US50.
While Berwick’s lawsuit was individual Uber is also fighting a federal class-action lawsuit that seeks to force Uber to reclassify all its drivers as employees. Uber has argued that the suit should be dropped because the 160,000 drivers referred to have “have little or nothing in common, other than their use of the Uber App in California at some point over the past six years.”
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