Union-Backed Labor Platforms
There are several examples from Denver to Newark where cabbies and unions started to work together, build apps, and organize the taxi sector. And if companies are smart, they’d welcome the unions because studies show that unionized workers have a better retention rate and at least the same productivity. 67 § In Newark, New Jersey, Trans Union Car service started as a non-for-profit taxi service with driv- ers being part of the United Transportation Alli- ance of New Jersey and affiliates of the CWA lo- cal 1039. Drivers benefit from the union’s many protections such as credit union, immigration support healthcare, as well as pension benefits. The company is planning to expand to Atlantic City, Elizabeth (New Jersey), and Hoboken. $
Already in 2007, taxi drivers joined the Communications Workers of America local 7777 and two years later, they managed to kick off Union taxi, the first driver-owned cooperative in Den- ver. They are also getting support from the organization 1worker1vote.org that supports unionized cooperatives by helping them figure out how to negotiate wages, benefit plans, and training programs. The upfront capital costs, often a big challenge for cooperatives, are less of an issue here because drivers already own the equipment.
The California App-Based Drivers Association 68 as a not-for-profit membership organization that unifies drivers from Uber, Lyft, and Side- car and other apps-based companies. CADA’s drivers are not employees and therefore they cannot become full members of the union. However, the Teamsters Local 986 in Califor- nia, can lobby for drive-friendly regulation. They make sure that drivers are working for companies like Lyft and Uber are speaking with a unified voice.
Co-operatives from Within
Another alluring if imaginary proposal is the idea of worker cooperatives forming inside the belly of the sharing economy. Uber drivers could use the technical infrastructure of the company to run their own enterprises. Such hostile takeover by workers could be imaginable as a result of an anti-trust lawsuit compa- rable to the one brought forward against Microsoft after its launch of Internet Explorer.
The Platform as Protocol
Perhaps then, the future work will not be dictated by centralized platforms, even if they are operated by co-ops. Perhaps, it will be peer- to-peer interactions facilitated by protocols that enable peer-to-peer interactions.
In Israel, for example, La’Zooz 69 is a distributed peer-to-peer ride rental network. Where Members Media wanted you to think of them as Netflix for filmmakers and fans, owned by those produsers, La’Zooz could be likened to the Bittorrent of ride sharing. Anyone driving around a city can earn crypto tokens by taking in fellow travelers. In difference to the system previously described, this one is entirely peer-to-peer, there is no central point, no HQ.