As a Silicon Valley technologist transplanted to the campaign world, I care deeply about structures and support for innovation. I’ve seen first-hand the way in which technology is bringing positive change into our communities. Technology has transformed the way we communicate, we travel, we exercise, we date, we shop, we learn, we get jobs. Sharing economy firms are disrupting traditional industries for the better across the globe. One of the many reasons I upended my life to join Hillary’s team is that, as Senator and Secretary of State, she had a proven record of using technology as a means of harnessing change both in our country and around the world. She gets it.
Hillary said in a speech at the New School today:
“Meanwhile, many Americans are making extra money renting out a spare room, designing websites, selling products they design themselves at home, or even driving their own car. This ‘on demand’ or so-called ‘gig economy’ is creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation, but it’s also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future.”
I’ve been surprised to see these common-sense comments get misrepresented as an attack on the sharing economy. As Hillary mentioned, the sharing economy is creating exciting new opportunities that are helping Americans work more flexible hours and earn a little bit of extra cash by renting out a spare room, selling products they design themselves, or even driving their own car. From veterans re-entering the workforce, to families trying to supplement their household incomes, to ordinary people recovering from losing their job or working around busy schedules, countless Americans are benefiting from these innovations and helping drive the economy forward. That’s something we can be proud of.
And as we navigate uncharted seas in this new economy, Hillary wants to guarantee that all workers are being protected and rewarded for their hard work. She’s not calling out specific sectors, or any one company, but is addressing an economy-wide problem that has existed for years. We’ve seen some employers take advantage of vulnerable workers in industries like construction, janitorial services, agriculture, and even home healthcare. Hillary’s remarks today challenge us all to think about the future of work in America. She’s calling on all sectors to do better: to ensure that no employees are exploited and to ensure that all workers are rewarded for their work. The vast majority of my colleagues in the technology community support these goals. It’s essential that we talk about how to do that right.
In her speech, Hillary challenged all of us to think about how we enforce today’s laws that allow the middle class to access good jobs today, while building new rules of the road for the future economy. It’s a matter of approaching the future smartly, a future that does not fit neatly into our existing laws built for a different workplace and a different economy.
As the campaign unfolds, the tech community will continue to see that Hillary is fighting to defend the issues that matter most to them. From calling for comprehensive immigration reform to addressing climate change and defending marriage equality, Hillary is fighting to improve lives and our economy, which is the core goal of the technology industry I love. The Republicans who are attacking Hillary’s speech today have the opposite agenda — very few technologists I know stand with them.
We are a community rooted in facts and diligence. She is pro-jobs and pro-innovation. Please read the speech and make up your own mind.
Stephanie Hannon is Chief Technology Officer at Hillary for America.