Employees? They’re not important.

It seems that workers might not like the new sharing economy:

The worker of the future will be fast, flexible, and available the instant a customer clicks a button on a smartphone screen.

But the worker of the future will not be an employee — at least if some of today’s fastest-growing and best-funded startups have their way. They’re positioning themselves as “technology platforms” that simply connect people with independent chauffeurs, house cleaners, or errand-runners. For the most part, the armies of workers that companies like Uber or TaskRabbit are assembling — often after screening interviews, background checks, and training programs — are treated as independent contractors and receive no benefits.
A class-action lawsuit filed this summer in Massachusetts and California courts is challenging that. The suit asserts that Uber improperly classifies its drivers, who own their cars and use Uber’s smartphone app to get work, as independent contractors. No sick time, no health insurance, no 401(k) contributions.

The attorney representing a group of Uber drivers in the class-action suit, Shannon Liss-Riordan, says Uber’s technology may be new, but “what we’re seeing is really just a new spin on this old theme — trying to save labor costs by avoiding having employees.” Liss-Riordan says that employee status affords rights — like the right to unemployment benefits, medical leave, or worker’s compensation.

Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett addressed the lawsuit with a statement: “Uber will vigorously defend the rights of riders to enjoy competition and choice, and for drivers to build their own small business.”

Really what Uber means is “Uber will vigorously defend the rights of Uber to make lots of money”.

In an interesting bit of timing, there is a long article on the CEO of care.com in the Boston Globe Magazine. It’s interesting because, despite having a quote like this:

Even in the early days of Care.com, Marcelo wanted to build a company that was on a “mission” not only to help families with their needs at home but also to help keep more women in their careers. “At the micro level, we are helping empower women and families, then we are helping at the employer level to ensure that we can keep women in the workplace,” says Marcelo. “And we are helping at the macro level, because if you want countries around the world to increase GDP, you must have female participation in the workplace. You can’t do that unless you have great child-care and senior-care infrastructure.”

the only place the article mentions the actual workers is:

That relationship is being tested by a wrongful death lawsuit filed in late July by a Wisconsin family that used Care.com to hire the nanny now facing charges of killing their 3-month-old baby. According to reports about the lawsuit, the family used Care.com’s background check, but the sitter hired through the site had a “history of alcohol and violence,” including several driving-under-the-influence citations, that wasn’t discovered in the check. The infant died in July 2012 from blunt force while in the sitter’s care; she was allegedly drunk.

I guess employees only matter if they bring bad publicity


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