Thoughts

The future of work… as determined by Uber?

Interview with David Weil by Molly Wood
Marketplace Tech. 11.26.20

As the pandemic recession drags on, people are turning to gig work to fill the gaps, and the nature of that work is evolving. Proposition 22 in California, which passed this month, lets companies classify delivery and ride-hail drivers as independent contractors. There are some new requirements, such as a wage floor and some health benefit options.

Some describe it as a “third way,” between benefit-free part-time work and traditional full-time employment. If the idea catches on more broadly, what could it mean for how we work? I spoke with David Weil, dean at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. He told me about the origin of the idea. The following is an edited transcript of our conversation.

David Weil: Well, the third way comes, in fact, from Canada, where there is a concept of what’s called a dependent contractor, where you have a set of protections that are designed for independent contractors that really rely on a single or a small number of major employers who are contracting their business to protect independent contractors who really had this level of dependency. But I think the problem of the third way is the fact that Canada starts in a very different place than workers in this country start.

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David Weil is Dean and Professor at Brandeis University’s Heller School of Social Policy and Management. He served as US Wage and Hour Administrator at the Department of Labor during the last three years of the Obama administration. He is a leading international expert on workplace and labor market policy and was the Peter and Deborah Wexler Professor of Management at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business before coming to Brandeis. The materials on this site arise from analysis contained in The Fissured Workplace and a growing body of research regarding the fundamental restructuring of employment and its impacts on workers and businesses. It also discusses approaches to dealing with the fissured workplace developed during the Obama administration as well as new ideas and efforts being discussed and undertaken today. 

News

“New rule lets companies treat some employees as gig workers,”
by Samantha Fields, Marketplace, 1.7.21. Read.

“Albertsons is laying off employees and replacing them with gig workers,
as app platforms rise,” by Eli Rosenberg, Washington Post, 1.6.21 Read.

“What Grocery Drivers and Fired ER Doctors Have in Common,”
by Henry Grabar, Slate, 1.5.21. Read. 

“3 Ideas Shaking Up The Worker Classification Debate,” by Mike LaSusa,
Law 360, 12.14.20. Read.

Policy Matters Newsletter, by Leon Rodriguez, Scott P. Mallery and
Lawrence Z. Lorber, Lexology, 12.9.20. Read.

“Uber and Lyft in driving seat to remake US labour laws,” by Dave Lee,
Financial Times, 11.5.20. (Article available to subscribers at www.ft.com.)

“Inside Scalia’s Pro-Industry Revamp of Labor Agency Enforcement,”
by  Ben Penn, Bloomberg, 11.2.20. Read.

“Uber and Lyft are in an Election Day showdown with California.
Massachusetts might be next,” by Adam Vaccaro, Boston Globe,
11.1.20. Read.  


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