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The Real Reason Unions Hate The Sharing-Economy

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The largest federation of unions in the country attacked the sharing-economy model again Tuesday in its relentless campaign to get more contractors classified as employees.

The AFL-CIO has been at the forefront of fighting against sharing-economy ventures, like Uber, that utilizes contractors. The union argues workers are being robbed of the benefits they deserve when they are classified as contractors instead of employees. Manhattan Institute Fellow Jared Meyer, however, notes the real reason for the fight is to make it easier to unionize the workers.

“Its not surprising they are making this argument,” Meyer told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Collective bargaining rights are only granted to employees.”

Labor unions often use collective bargaining because it allows them to unionize an entire workplace at once. Contractors are technically independent operations, meaning they don’t belong to a single workplace. Advances in digital technologies have allowed sharing-economy companies to use contracting in unique and radically more frequent ways, which poses a problem for unions.

“It will completely destroy the industry,” Meyer continued. “It would force Uber to change their entire business model. They’d have to decide when drivers work and who works.”

The sharing-economy cannot just rid itself of contractors since that is what the model is based on. Companies make digital platforms where individuals can create their own business ventures, which empowers workers to choose their own hours and provides more flexibility on how they work.

“People are showing with their revealed preference that they prefer this model,” Meyer also noted. “People can use it as full employment but they can also use it part of the time.”

The AFL-CIO is the largest labor organization in the country with dozens of member unions representing 12 million workers. Nevertheless, it has lost members in recent decades along with the rest of the labor movement. The sharing-economy has expanded greatly in recent years, which means there are a lot of potential new members.

“The AFL-CIO is committed to ensuring new technology – and new forms of employer manipulation – do not erode the rights of working people,” the union said in a statement. “Rest assured that if employers get away with pretending their workers aren’t employees, your job could be next.”

Labor unions are not alone in their push to get contractors classified as employees. Seattle lawmakers proposed a bill last year that will force sharing-economy ventures treat their contractors like employees. Federal labor agencies have also worked to undermine the model and make it more like its traditional counterparts. There have also been lawsuits by workers who claim by being classified as contractors they were being taking advantage of.

The AFL-CIO did not respond to a request for comment by TheDCNF.

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