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26 J. Affordable Hous. & Cmty. Dev. L. 67 (2017-2018)
Escaping the Wage-Slave/Micro-Entrepreneur Binary: Platforms for Liberating Labor

handle is hein.journals/jrlaff26 and id is 79 raw text is: 

             Escaping the Wage-Slave!

             Micro-entrepreneur Binary:

         Platforms for Liberating Labor

                  Veena  Dubal  and  Sushil Jacob

Whether  a worker is legally classified as an employee or an indepen-
dent contractor determines whether he or she is entitled to any employ-
ment and  labor law protections. With the innovation and proliferation of
business models intended to lower corporate costs by relying on inde-
pendent contractor labor, especially in the on-demand or gig econ-
omy, more workers are working casually in positions as contractors, les-
sees, temporary laborers, and freelancers. These workers, carved out of
the web  of safety net protections, often live precarious lives, unable to
support themselves or their families despite full-time work. Empirical re-
search suggests, however, that despite the instability, many workers pre-
fer contract labor because of the structural freedom and independence
that the work sometimes facilitates. A cottage industry of social scientists,
legal scholars, and even private firms has emerged to address the gaps be-
tween the realities, needs, and desires of workers. This paper contributes
to this literature by thinking about how work can be structured so that
workers live free and independent work lives, have the power to make
real business decisions, and potentially benefit from safety net protections
accorded employees.
   We propose a new form of labor-owned business organization, the plat-
form cooperative, as an opportunity to escape the binary between wage
slavery and precarious, unregulated labor. A platform cooperative, by our
definition, is an online marketplace that is owned and democraically gov-
erned by  its members. Through  a detailed proposal and analysis, we
argue that platform cooperatives, as we define them, have the potential to
provide a liberatory alternative to precarity, using technology-coordinated
work to put power, capital, and security in the hands of workers.

   Veena Dubal (dubalv@uchastings.edu) is Associate Professor of Law, UC Hastings
College of the Law. Sushil Jacob (sushil@cooplawgroup.com) is an attorney with the
Tuttle Law Group, LLP in San Francisco.


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