If not for ourselves, then for our kids
“Uber and Lyft drivers in LA plan to strike,” read the Daily Roundup headline on LinkedIn.
An interesting concept for sure. A strike. Without a union. By workers who aren’t employees. I read further.
It seems Uber cut per-mile pay from 80 cents to 60 cents in LA. So, LA area drivers, including Lyft drivers, were boycotting the ride-share apps. At least for a day.
To see what people were saying, I read the comments.
What I saw, overall, was a lack of understanding. Due to outdated thoughts about work.
Multiple comments said that ride-share driving was never meant to be a full-time job. People should only be driving in their “free time.” So, a cut in pay shouldn’t really matter.
While it may be true that a large number of ride-share drivers are driving in their “spare time,” there is nothing that declares this to be a universal truth. Something everyone should just know. And, do.
In fact, when drivers are recruited, the work is idealized. An opportunity to earn money. Not extra money. Just money. Plain and simple.
And, yes, drivers are recruited. Create a profile, or post a resume, on a well-known job board, like Monster or Indeed, and you too may find yourself receiving phone calls. From recruiters who sell the idea of driving for a living.
If you’re completely out of work, it will likely seem appealing. A way to make money while you job search.
But, once you’re signed up and driving, according to articles like this one in City Lab, you’re continuously “encouraged” to drive more. To take advantage of promotions and premiums.
It’s the same type of encouragement we all receive from social media platforms. Ignore your Twitter feed for a day and you’ll get an email, telling you to check your notifications. Instagram and Facebook do the same thing — continuously enticing you back.
Imagine if those notifications were opportunities to earn money, to boost your income. They’d be hard to ignore. You might find yourself driving more than you intended. FOMO starts to set in. You fear missing out on opportunities. Opportunities to make more money.
But, maybe you don’t really end up making more. Maybe, the cost of gas, or the cost of car maintenance, combined with the percentage the platform keeps, starts taking a toll. And, what was sold to you as a great way to make money, shows it’s truth. For you.
Ride-share platforms aren’t the only players in the gig economy. There are quite a few others — like Fiverr and Upwork.
For some, the platforms provide fantastic opportunities. For others, not so much. But, how do you know? How do you figure that out? Are we giving today’s students, tomorrow’s workers, the knowledge and tools they need to evaluate whether the gig economy meets their needs?
For some, gig work is full-time work. They talk about their success. They write about it on Medium. Post pictures of it on Instagram.
So, we can’t just emphatically state that gig work is not full-time work and hope our kids never think otherwise.
Maybe we’re just reluctant to let go of our nostalgic view of work. Of a time when most jobs were quality jobs. Offering benefits, sufficient hours, and good pay. A time when just one job was enough. A time when evenings and weekends were for family, friends, and hobbies.
But, the truth is that many of today’s jobs are not quality jobs. They don’t offer benefits. Or, enough hours. Or worse yet, they offer less pay than they did in the past. So, evenings and weekends get filled up with second jobs and gig work.
We have to accept that the world of work has changed. It continues to change. Dramatically.
Even the rules are getting rewritten. To help the platforms. To increase the value for the platform’s investors. Not the platform’s workers.
And, we’re letting it happen. We’re letting work change and the rules to be rewritten. Without our input. And, in some cases, without our knowledge.
It’s time we accept this reality. And, the reality our kids will find when they begin work.
It’s time to update our conversations. Update the skills we give our kids. Not just the skills to do the work, but the skills to evaluate the work. The skills to advocate for quality work. For themselves. For their generation. And, the generation that comes after them.
Maybe we missed the opportunity to make work better for ourselves. Maybe the changes snuck up on us. But, we can see them clearly now. So, we can’t miss this current opportunity. The opportunity to make work better for our kids.