Call for Submissions: The Gig Economy

Workers outside the traditional paycheck economy now constitute 30 percent of the workforce. The fall issue of YES! Magazine will look at what’s driving this new kind of economy, and how workers can help shift it into a better direction. Send us your pitches by March 25.

Workers outside the traditional employee-employer model now constitute 30 percent of the workforce, and economists say that figure will continue to grow. This on-demand work economy raises important questions about how to continue upholding fair labor standards and economic security for an extraordinarily diverse sector: contractors for companies like Uber, AirBnB, and TaskRabbit; entrepreneurs; day laborers; seasonal workers; temps; and folks working off the books. Many companies have increased profit margins by shedding most of the traditional responsibilities of employers, exciting Wall Street investors while frightening labor advocates. So while many workers say they like the independence and flexibility of these jobs, nontraditional workers receive no health or retirement benefits and are subject to iffy pay arrangements.

In its fall issue, YES! Magazine would like to cover:

Protecting workers. Some types of employment have long histories in the gig economy. Are there lessons to be learned from worker-led advocacy in these sectors? How can workers and the people who hire them uphold fair labor standards and economic security?

Reinventing work. Meanwhile, it’s clear that people see something they like in these jobs. Are there emerging workplaces in our economy that combine the flexibility we want with the security, benefits, and workplace democracy we need? Where are the points of innovation?

How will workers organize? If “precarious labor” is neoliberalism’s next move, how should the rest of us respond? What are the opportunities for workers to organize outside of the traditional work environment? Is this a renaissance for traditional unions to step up with a newly relevant role?

Opportunities for big change. The rise of the gig economy represents a massive economic shift untethering workers from traditional corporate job structures. What other large system changes could this shift drive? Could local economies gain strength as workers in massive numbers re-examine work for paycheck systems of exchange and instead begin to value relationships, time, and skills? Is this a moment in which worker cooperative models are uniquely positioned to lead the way?

What do we want from work? We are interested in taking a fresh look at the role work plays in our lives, and what work could look like in an economy that serves people and the planet.

We’re looking for stories that address useful solutions at all levels, from policies to communities to individuals. We’re especially interested in stories that show creative solutions already in place. Do you have an idea for a reported feature, deeply researched think piece, or personal essay that belongs in this issue of YES!? Send pitches to [email protected] by March 25.


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