Aiding (Without Abetting) in the Sharing Economy

How do we chart a course of empowerment and advocacy?

Matt Jorgensen
May 11, 2016 · 6 min read

Tech platforms as ethical employers

We believe that technology platforms can and should hold themselves to the standards of a good employer. Beyond the tax/benefits implications of the 1099 contractor vs. employee debate, being a good employer means taking a long-term interest in the support and development of employees.

  • Advocacy: Many of our cooks have spent their lives working in the shadows of an exclusive and expensive industrial food system. Existing regulation was written for (and often by) large corporations and many requirements effectively shut out micro-enterprises. The private caterers, curbside tamale hawkers and personal chefs of our day-to-day convenience don’t have the resources for costly commercial kitchen space nor do they have the voice to change laws crafted around large industry. We believe in telling their stories and advocating on their behalf.

Why our approach is challenging

Our commitment to empowerment and advocacy has landed us in an difficult place when it comes to navigating existing regulation.

Empowerment = “Knowledge and Intent”

Last week, local regulators served the Josephine platform a request to cease and desist operations in the City of Berkeley and Alameda County. The request cited charges of “aiding and abetting illegal food sales”, a claim that is legally based upon “knowledge and intent” of supporting illegal activity. While we believe that our cooks are operating legally (in an area without regulatory precedent), costly litigation involving our cooks and customers is certainly not our preferred path. And the unfortunate result is that we have become the easiest way for regulators to target and shut down our cooks.

Advocacy = “Letting the Cat Out of the Bag”

In a recent phone call, one of our state-level allies suggested that unfortunately, our legislative effort has effectively “let the cat out of the bag” and made it difficult for regulators to ignore our cooks.

We won’t change course

Our efforts both in policy and in operating our business are incredibly unconventional and are sustained in large part by the strong sense of ethics and conviction held by our team and our cooks.

You can help!

We are trying to chart a path of empowerment and advocacy without endangering the safety of our cooks or the prospects of our business. We’d love comments, advice or introductions.

The Dish

Musings on slow cooking a company in a world built for the microwave @Josephinemeals #withcare

Thanks to Simone Stolzoff and Charley Wang.

Matt Jorgensen

Written by

Social Innovation Fellow at Fair Care Labs; Coordinator of C.O.O.K. Alliance; Co-Founder & Co-CEO at Josephine

The Dish

The Dish

Musings on slow cooking a company in a world built for the microwave @Josephinemeals #withcare