Labor Platforms and Gig Work: The Failure to Regulate

IRLE Working Paper No. 106-17

UC Hastings Research Paper No. 251

32 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2017 Last revised: 18 Oct 2017

See all articles by Ruth Berins Collier

Ruth Berins Collier

University of California, Berkeley

V.B. Dubal

University of California Hastings College of the Law

Christopher Carter

University of California, Berkeley

Date Written: September 19, 2017

Abstract

Since 2012, the platform economy has received much academic, popular, and regulatory attention, reflecting its extraordinary rate of growth. This paper provides a conceptual and theoretical overview of rapidly growing labor platforms, focusing on how they represent both continuity and change in the world of work and its regulation. We first lay out the logic of different types of labor platforms and situate them within the decline of labor protections and the rise of intermediated employment relations since the 1970s. We then focus on one type of labor platform — the ondemand platform — and analyze the new questions and problems for workers and the political problem of labor regulation. To examine the politics of regulating labor on these platforms, we turn to Uber, which is the easiest case for labor regulation due to its high degree of control over work conditions. Because Uber drivers are atomized and ineffective at organizing collectively, their issues are most often represented by surrogate actors — including plaintiffs’ attorneys, alt labor groups, unions, and even Uber itself — whose own interests shape the nature of their advocacy for drivers. The result of this type of politics, dominated by concentrated interests and surrogate actors, has been a permissive approach by regulators in both legislative and judicial venues. If labor regulation has not occurred in this “easy” case, it is unlikely to occur for gig work on other labor platforms.

Keywords: Labor Regulation, Gig Economy, Uber, Platform Economy, Platform Regulation, Precarious Work, Regulation of Work

Suggested Citation

Collier, Ruth Berins and Dubal, Veena and Carter, Christopher, Labor Platforms and Gig Work: The Failure to Regulate (September 19, 2017). IRLE Working Paper No. 106-17; UC Hastings Research Paper No. 251. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3039742 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3039742

Ruth Berins Collier

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Veena Dubal (Contact Author)

University of California Hastings College of the Law ( email )

200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

Christopher Carter

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
238
Abstract Views
950
rank
129,553
PlumX Metrics