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Future Economies Reading Group

January 2021: The Cooperative Economy Act and Gig Economy Refresher

meeting1 min read




This month we are joined by Ra Criscitiello, deputy director of research at the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), a 100,000-member-strong labor union.

When you think of the gig economy, you probably think of transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft or food delivery companies like DoorDash. Those companies are visible in our lives, but it's important to recognize that the gig economy is expanding into more and more sectors of the economy. Precaritization, pushed under the guise of "flexibility", is the dominant trend in the American workforce today.

But does flexibility always mean flexibility for the employer? What would it look like if workers came together to not only bargain for better wages and workplace conditions, but also to take ownership of their own labor in a deeper way? That's the idea behind the California Cooperative Economy Act.

The Cooperative Economy Act creates a new form of labor market intermediary, the Cooperative Labor Contractor (CLC). CLCs create a new employment paradigm where workers not only receive employment protections, but also own and govern their workplaces. CLCs are designed to employ workers, especially those misclassified as independent contractors before AB5, who largely continue to be misclassified. Through the Act, California can enforce AB5 and advance a new employment paradigm that protects workers. CEA is a worker-centered response that offers both a sustainable long-term arrangement for formerly misclassified workers and accelerates their economic recovery during this difficult economic time.

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