Do sharing economy workers deserve a fair wage? An open letter from a tech CEO.
Some sharing economy startups are often built on the backs of underpaid and exploited workers. It’s time to change that. In an open letter to other “sharing economy” companies, Matthew George, announces that Bridj will be the first American tech company to stand in solidarity with #Fightfor15 movement by guaranteeing a $15 minimum wage for hourly team members.
Dear fellow sharing economy CEOs,
Wake up. To put it bluntly, the latest boom in our industry has come on the back of the underemployed and poor. Rather than using the tremendous wealth our companies have generated for our teams and shareholders, companies in our industry have leveraged driving wages down to drive valuations up. It can’t go on.
For those who don’t know us, our company Bridj is a research and development shop (in the greatest city on earth) focusing on developing the next generation of connected urban infrastructure. The first product that we’ve released to the public leverages big data, deep learning, and distributed mobile systems to help people commute (using small shuttle vans driven by professional drivers) more easily. What started out as a small test has grown exponentially, and is now moving hundreds of thousands of people a year around our test cities. Our users rely on Bridj to get around the city, and rely on the Bridj drivers to get them there safely.
From day one, we’ve committed to only using drivers who are W-2 employees and are fully licensed, regulated, and insured. As technology begins to control more and more of our physical world, the safety and social justice components of our technology become even more important. That’s why today, we’re announcing that we are the first major American technology startup to stand in solidarity with the #FightFor15 movement, by offering driver positions that have wages of at least $15 an hour with full benefits.
In our industry’s collective march to higher valuations, higher growth, and bigger IPOs, we’re divorcing our industry from the values of fair compensation for fair work may produce short term gains. Our choice, if left uncorrected, will be fatal as the harsh cloud of unmet promises to those who have built our businesses, buries our short term gains.
Well paid, well cared for people are the foundations of stable long term businesses, and the foundation of the next great wave of American technology companies. When I look back at the hundreds of thousands of hours that our team has poured into Bridj, I’ll look back proud of the business we created, but prouder of the way we treated our people. To lend your voice in support, please send this post out to your networks, please tweet, and please share. By prodding those in power in the technology industry, our collective voice can lead to massive change, and others joining the effort to #FightFor15.
PS: I’ll be using the next few weeks to build off of this post to talk about some of the other important (but more uncomfortable) choices facing the technology industry, and how we can shape the conversation in a way that is additive, not destructive, to the fabric of the world we live in. Please follow!