The New Republic has an article on the gig economy, titled ‘The Silicon Valley Economy Is Here. And It’s a Nightmare’ looking at the effects of companies like Instacart and Uber classifying their workers as independent contractors to get around labour laws.
Rideshare gig drivers have reported earning so little that they resort to sleeping in their cars during off-peak times so that they don’t have to waste time commuting to higher-earning areas when they start driving the next day. Most gig companies don’t offer reimbursements for expenses like gas, parking, or tickets. Nor do they provide adequate insurance to cover wear and tear on personal vehicles, or hikes in data-usage plans for workers’ smartphones.
All the risks and expenses are shifted to the worker, with the compensation for the job being driven lower and lower.
These broad structural conditions of inequality have accelerated thanks to Big Tech’s penchant for skirting labor laws, such as the minimum wage, through classifying its employees as contract workers. When Cotten first started as an Instacart shopper, she did well, earning up to $22 per “batch.” However, Instacart soon flooded her region with new shoppers, which drove down her wages to as little as $3 an order. The added competition meant that if she couldn’t work, someone else was there to pick up the slack.
Sounds like globalisation in miniature. Instead of your job going to China or India, it just goes to anyone in your area who’s willing to work for a lower percentage of minimum wage than you are.