Why We’re All Becoming Independent Contractors
GM is worth around $60 billion, and has over 200,000 employees. Its front-line workers earn from $19 to $28.50 an hour, with benefits.
Uber is estimated to be worth some $40 billion, and has 850 employees. Uber also has over 163,000 drivers (as of December – the number is expected to double by June), who average $17 an hour in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., and $23 an hour in San Francisco and New York.
But Uber doesn’t count these drivers as employees. Uber says they’re “independent contractors.”
What difference does it make?
For one thing, GM workers don’t have to pay for the machines they use. But Uber drivers pay for their cars – not just buying them but also their maintenance, insurance, gas, oil changes, tires, and cleaning. Subtract these costs and Uber drivers’ hourly pay drops considerably.
For another, GM’s employees get all the nation’s labor protections.
These include Social Security, a 40-hour workweek with time-and-a-half for overtime, worker health and safety, worker’s compensation if injured on the job, family and medical leave, minimum wage, pension protection, unemployment insurance, protection against racial or gender discrimination, and the right to bargain collectively.
Not to forget Obamacare’s mandate of employer-provided healthcare.
Uber workers don’t get any of these things. They’re outside the labor laws.
Uber workers aren’t alone. There are millions like just them, also outside the labor laws — and their ranks are growing. Most aren’t even part of the new Uberized “sharing” economy.
They’re franchisees, consultants, and free lancers.
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