Moving from Sharing Economy to Cooperative Economy.
There has been much to rave over in recent year of the uprising “Sharing Economy”. But as much convenience as the “sharing Economy” brings to our society, by allocating resources between individuals, it also brings alot of debate on the morality of it.
The top debate now over Uber, the poster-child of the “Sharing Economy”, is the fact that Uber drivers should be regarded as employees not as independent contractors. Uber has even gone to the extent of not calling their drivers, very simply, “Drivers” but instead “Drive Partners” as if the use of certain lingo helps the fact that they are not treated as such. In effect, Uber’s lawyers are going to be arguing that their drivers are so diverse — in regards to flexibility, working hours, accountability and things of that nature— that they cannot be considered as just one class, employees. While in reality Uber drivers, for example, are given not only a quota for the amount of rides they accept, they are held accountable for customer complaints and even one driver was fired for “disrespecting” Uber staff. If you ask me that sounds like qualities of an employee. By leaving them as independent contractors and not employees Uber is skimpimg by on requirements such as supplying benefits and paying taxes for there “employees”. In the eyes of any person this is essentially cheating, am I right? Now inorder to solve this, on the other end of the spectrum, lawyers are arguing that Uber is indeed treating their “partners” as “employees” and they should be considered as such.
What this case can mean for the sharing economy and companies like Uber, billion dollar industries, such as Airbnb and Lyft is, as Arun Sundararajan, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of business, tells Bloomberg:
“Classifying drivers as employees would result in higher prices, and fewer Uber drivers overall who must work longer hours. The higher costs would be passed on to consumers, with reductions in drivers’ income and Uber’s cut of their fares.”
So it would seem the best option would to just leave well enough alone…
This doesnt sit well with legitimate taxi and accommodation services that follow the rules (as far as stating employees as employees). This complication is starting to look like the end of an attractive “Sharing economy”. To be successful, the venture-capital-funded “sharing economy” will be forced to lose all those aspects of informal sharing that makes “sharing” beneficial to consumers, producers, and workers alike by expunging those aspects that cross boundaries on employment rights.
If you ask me a successful sharing economy in which all parties involved are happy and no revolt ensues is a lost cause in the seas of society, but that is just my opinion. A likely alternative in my eyes would be to move from an ideal, yet unachievable, “Sharing economy” to a more likely, workable “cooperative economy”. By keeping the qualities of the sharing economy such as allocating resources and talents between individuals but in a more narrow point of view. Sir Mirriam Webster defines a cooperative economy as:
an economic system whereby those who employ its specific operating principles and embrace its explicit values can meet their basic needs in personally, socially, and environmentally responsible ways.
So by keeping the ideology behind the sharing economy in mind and reading the proceeding definition we can see how this might work.
So In and of itself a co-op is a business or organization that is democratically owned and governed by its membership. Typically comprised of a conglomerate of workers, consumers, and producers alike. This type of economy is discussed in the brief snag-film online documentary titled “Own The Change” available on toolboxfored.org
Already, cooperatives are breaking into the domain of the sharing economy (in theory and in practice) and many of the people leading the charge are those dissatisfied with what both the traditional economy and the sharing economy had to offer them.