President's Message: Fairness and Flexibility for Gig Workers

The overwhelming public support for ending the unfair treatment of their workers, has led app-based companies to engage in a public campaign to convince people that somehow the flexible hours that many of their workers enjoy will disappear if they have to follow the labor laws that apply to every other employer in New York.

They are waging this campaign because a report by the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations on the work experiences of gig economy workers shows unstable earnings, lack of benefits and harassment were common concerns for these workers. Also, a recent poll by Siena Research Institute found that 75 percent of those polled support ensuring that workers in the gig economy receive basic employee protections.

App-based companies have driven down labor standards since their inception, hurting gig workers, while simultaneously disadvantaging traditional businesses who correctly classify their workers as employees. There is no reason app-based companies should not abide by the same rules as traditional employers, particularly when in many instances, gig workers perform the same job as traditional employees.

Governor Cuomo has recognized this and emphasized that more than 40 percent of New Yorkers will be employed in the gig economy this year. He has put forth a framework to give these workers a fighting chance to be treated fairly while enjoying the same rights and protections as other workers.

These companies challenge every ruling and new law that attempts to fix this problem and now they are spending millions on ads that tacitly threaten to take away flexibility from their workers. This behavior is exactly why we have labor laws in the first place. Given the reports of wage and tip theft, harassment, worker injuries and unaddressed labor complaints, the time to act is now.

Mario Cilento, President