More harm than good? Are companies like Uber really a good thing

Transportation, cleaning services, and even data entry all at the touch of a finger. Welcome to the 21st century. At first glance this seems like a great thing. I mean who doesn’t enjoy having the ability to order a ride from anywhere to anywhere at just the touch of a finger. With the rise of these apps and services, the landscape for many historic industries, like taxi cabs, is drastically changing. This is not necessarily a bad thing, the market is suppose to force out businesses that are not able to innovate to keep up with the changing demands of the market place. Much of the American economy, and capitalism for that matter, is structured around who can do something the best for the cheapest. Those are the companies that are suppose to thrive. There is, however, a great deal of controversy surrounding these new app based on-demand services. The controversy is arising, primarily relates to the treatment of the employees that are fulfilling all of these new roles.

“Current and former workers for Uber, Amazon Inc.’s Mechanical Turk and Handybook, better known as Handy, say on-demand work platforms give them little control over the terms of their labor, and complain that the contracts they’re required to accept force them to shoulder personal and financial risk without the returns or advantages they’d hoped for” (Weber, Silverman, 2015).

One of the main purposes of having a job is to provide stability for the employee and their family. With consistent biweekly paychecks, employees are able to determine whether the job provides enough to support themselves, and their potential family. They are able to make sure that their paycheck covers the necessary expenses, like rent, groceries, and insurance costs. This is not the case anymore with these new app based services, hopefully with a little extra to be put in the bank. Work hours are always fluctuating, and people can be terminated at any point, with the companies knowing that the job will always be filled.

Another main issue with these services, aside from job security and loyalty, is that these companies do not face the same regulation that other companies face who have employees rather than contractors.

“App-enabled workers don’t fit neatly into a regulatory landscape that recognizes only two types of worker: employees in traditional work relationships and independent contractors. Employees are generally covered by protections such as minimum-wage and antidiscrimination statutes, workers’ compensation, and union-organizing rights, while the latter have no such protections” (Weber, Silverman, 2015).

Lack of minimum wage requirements present the possibility, although rare, of earning less than minimum wage. For one firm, employee pay dipped as low as two or three dollars an hour, and even included non-monetary payments like reward programs and credits (Weber, Silverman, 2015). In a nation where the minimum wage is under a great deal of controversy for being too low, working for a company without fixed pay and the possibility of earning less than minimum wage can be extremely frightening. Although the convenience levels associated with these services are extremely high, the lack of stability these organizations are creating in the job market seems to be creating a system that does more harm than good.


One thought on “More harm than good? Are companies like Uber really a good thing

  1. Emily Attar

    This is an interesting take on these companies. The app-enabled workers seem to be diverse in their employment intentions. I’ve found that several of my Uber drivers drive as an easy side job. If they have free time to drive around town, they will do so and see if any rides are being requested near them. For the others who rely on this employment however, the current non-regulation is definitely problematic. Being in beginning stages, I think that regulation is coming but it may take time to catch up.

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