37 Comp. Lab. L. & Pol'y J. 653 (2015-2016)
Commoditized Workers: Case Study Research on Labor Law Issues Arising from a Set of on-Demand/Gig Economy Platforms

handle is hein.journals/cllpj37 and id is 689 raw text is: 








     COMMODITIZED WORKERS: CASE STUDY
   RESEARCH ON LABOR LAW ISSUES ARISING
 FROM A SET OF ON-DEMAND/GIG ECONOMY
                          PLATFORMS


                            Antonio Aloisit

     In the framework of the so-called on-demand/gig economy, the
number of on-demand companies matching labor supply and demand is on
the rise. These schemes may enlarge opportunities for people willing to find
a job or to top up their salaries. Despite the upside of creating new peer
marketplaces, these platforms may also be used to circumvent employment
regulation, by operating informally in traditionally regulated markets.
     The literature showed how, by 2009, millions of worker accounts have
been generated within these frameworks. Productivity may be fostered but,
at the same time, a new version of Taylorism is disseminated (i.e., the
fragmentation of labor into hyper-temporary jobs - called microtasks - on a
virtual or local assembly line), strengthened by globalization and
computerization. All these intermediaries recruit freelance or casual workers
who are labelled as independent contractors even though many indicators
seem to reveal a disguised employment relationship. Uncertainty and
insecurity are the price for extreme flexibility. A bulk of business risk is
shifted to workers, and potential costs such as benefits or unemployment
insurance are avoided. Minimum wages are often far from being reached.
     This Article presents a case study analysis of several on-demand work
platforms, starting from Uber and Amazon Mechanical Turk, one of the first
schemes founded in 2005, which is arguably employing humans-as-a-
service. It splits a single service in several micro Human Intelligence
Tasks (such as tagging photographs, writing short descriptions, transcribing
podcasts, processing raw data). Turkers/Providers (workers) are selected
by Requesters (firms) to quickly accomplish assignments online, and then
rated according to an internal system and finally paid only if delivery is
accepted. I comment upon the business model of TaskRabbit (thousands of


    t Ph.D. candidate in Legal Studies, Luigi Bocconi University, Milan. The author wishes to thank
Valerio De Stefano and Miriam A. Cherry for their helpful support, feedback, comments, and suggestions
on this Article.

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