The Drive to Precarity: A Political History of Work, Regulation, & Labor Advocacy in San Francisco's Taxi & Uber Economies
65 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2017 Last revised: 23 Sep 2017
Date Written: February 21, 2017
This Article examines both the creation of secure work and its ongoing demise through a critical historical and contemporary case study: over a century of chauffeur work in San Francisco, California. Employing a combination of historical archives and sociological research, I show how chauffeur driving became a site of secure work for much of the twentieth century and how this security unraveled over the course of many years. Since their entrée on the streets in 1909, chauffeur corporations — from the Taxicab Company to Uber — underwent formative re-organizations to shift the liabilities and responsibilities of business onto workers. Counterintuitively, these changes in corporate form were met with decreased regulation and a contracted business-labor bargain. I contend that the transformation of the corporate form, the shrinking bargain, and the rejoinders of the state triangulated to produce worker risk and weaken the relationship between work and security.
Keywords: Sharing Economy, Taxi, Uber, Misclassification, Public Interest Lawyering, Employee, Independent Contractor, National Labor Relations Act, Precarious Workers, Taxi Workers
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