Busy week in DC related to the new economy:
The Hamilton Project at Brookings hosted a gig economy event yesterday. The main topic was potential labor law changes. Brookings proposal is laid out in their paper Modernizing Labor Laws in the Online Gig Economy.
It has multiple law change proposals, with the big one being creating portable benefits for gig workers.
It's also interesting because the study authors have a very narrow definition of the gig economy. Key quote on their definition:
As we are defining it, the online gig economy involves the use of an Internet-based app to match customers to workers who perform discrete personal tasks, such as driving a passenger from point A to point B, or delivering a meal to a customer’s house. Note that this definition excludes intermediaries that facilitate the sale of goods and impersonal services to customers, such as TeacherPayTeachers.com, a Web site where teachers sell lesson plans and other nonpersonal services to other teachers, and Etsy.com, a Web site where individuals sell handmade or vintage goods. It also excludes Airbnb, a Web site where people can rent apartments, houses, and other accommodations.
I'm not sure why they exclude gig economy workers who work in the B2B sector, or sell goods, or rent real estate, but they do. But even though they are excluded from their analysis, they would likely be included in any portable benefit laws.
If you don't want to wade through the entire paper (it's both long and a bit dry), Bloomberg View has a nice summary and The American Prospect's A Safety Net for On-Demand Workers complains it doesn't go far enough.
Today the Department of Labor is holding a workshop on the future of work, but it's really on the gig economy. The DOL is not a fan of independent work in general and gig economy work in particular, so expect a lot hand wringing and complaints about the gig economy from this event. It too will talk about portable benefits.
Next week the Aspen Institute is holding a workshop on portable benefits. It covers pretty much the same ground as the Brookings event (they even share some of the same speakers).
Not holding an event, but weighing in with a policy statement is the AFL-CIO.
They've released Our Principles on the On-Demand Economy. You'll no doubt be shocked to hear they think gig workers should be able to bargain collectively. They also support portable benefits.
The recurring theme is everyone is in theory in favor of portable benefits for independent workers. We too think they are a good idea.
The bad news is everyone has a different idea around what should be included - and more importantly - what should not be included.
This means passage of new laws providing independent workers with access to portable benefits is likely a long, long way off.