09/15/2019

For Many Workers, ‘Gig Economy’ Has A Dark Side

The expanding gig economy in California is often praised for giving workers flexibility and independence. Be your own boss, set your own schedule, companies tout, and these companies would like us to think that drivers, cleaners and personal shoppers actually prefer the gig economy to traditional employment. The rosy spin ignores the reality for California’s low-wage workers.

For people like Maria, a janitor, contract work was never a choice. Even though she worked cleaning a 24-Hour Fitness gym for five years, Maria’s employment status changed suddenly when her employer decided that all janitors would be hired as independent contractors instead of employees.

She never gained the promised flexibility of independent contracting—Maria was told to show up for work at the same place and perform the exact same duties. The only difference was that she no longer had the same rights and wages that she once had as an employee. Instead of her normal hourly wage and overtime pay, she would be paid a flat fee regardless of the hours she worked. If she got hurt at work, her employer would no longer be accountable.

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