CBS has a post up titled 5 ways the “sharing” economy works against workers. For those who don’t know, “sharing economy” refers to companies like AirBnB and Uber that have non-employees rent out private property like appartments or cars, and services and successfully skim off the top. The AirBnB-founder tries to coopt the terminology of Couch Surfing and use it as a shield. Yet, as CBS points out, this is just a great way of exploiting people:
Stability. One key difference between traditional employers and the Internet companies pioneering the sharing economy is that the latter can’t promise their employees steady income.
Income.[…]But such numbers can be deceiving. Companies may mention top-end pay or a gross amount for all workers. In fact, the pay for gigs appears not only far more modest, but often nowhere near a living wage.
Meanwhile, even when the cash seems good, much of the cost of running the business falls on workers.
Benefits. Most employers in the sharing economy don’t offer benefits because the drivers, maids and other workers in these industries aren’t employees.
Control. The companies that provide such services often emphasize the control people have over their time, and for some workers that flexibility can be a major plus. Yet unpredictable hours and unstable income can undermine that autonomy.
Protection. A key advantage for companies like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb is that they are largely, if not entirely, unregulated. Yet that is starting to change. Municipalities and states around the U.S. are now weighing whether and how to level the playing field. The legal and regulatory repercussions could end up falling more heavily on the drivers, renters and other individuals who participate in a given sector than on the tech companies providing the online framework for business.
So if you have the choice, spurn those companies’ offers – especially so if you try and shop exploitation-aware in other contexts, for instance trying to buy Fairtrade or organic.