An essay by Sarah Kessler. Although I do believe in the potential of micro-entrepreneurial opportunities and the “gig economy” (which overlap with the Sharing Economy/Collaborative Economy in the arena of jobs), there are important issues to consider. Many of them are the same issues we look at when trying to improve low-wage jobs– lack of access to benefits, lack of laws to protect them, lack of security… And looking at low-wage workers who may do the same kinds of work offered on a micro-entrepreneurial platform like Taskrabbit, for example childcare or eldercare, we face a scenario in which Taskrabbits could compete with already stressed low-wage workers, or even become strikebreakers.
Sara Horowitz, founder of the Freelancers Union, may be onto one solution. She is optimistic about the wave of independent and marginalized workers coming together in associations, unions, and cooperatives, describing it as the “New Mutualism:” a reprise of the vibrant movement in the 1800s when American workers united to own cooperative local businesses, updated with today’s connectivity of the internet and mobile technology.