A day after a California administrative judge recommended that that Uber be fined $7.3 million and be suspended in the state, widespread coverage of the politicization of the gig economy continues. The New York Times reports that Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush personally hailed and took an Uber in San Francisco this morning to visit the headquarters of technology company Thumbtack. Bush’s choice of Uber was symbolic and indicated his support for gig economy firms. In fact, according to Business Insider, Bush’s campaign spent about $1,400 on 70 Uber rides during the last two weeks of June.
Meanwhile, major publications highlighted the emerging positions of presidential candidates on the gig economy. The New York Times noted that Uber has become “an unexpected proxy in the emerging debate between the left and right over the future of work, the responsibilities of employers, the virtues of technology and the necessity of workplace regulation.” The Times story also highlighted that Republican candidates see support for Uber as a way to promote the free market and win votes in cities with large Democratic bases, while Democratic candidates take issue with the classification of drivers but are reluctant to criticize the company by name to avoid alienating those voters.
Time also covered the politics of the gig economy, and concluded that Republican and Democratic positions aren’t as clear cut as they seem. The Time story points out that Uber and other gig economy firms are primarily based in largely-Democratic California and predicate their business models on independent contractors being able to take advantage of a large social safety net. Time also focuses on the efforts of Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) to explore Congressional action to account for the situation faced by workers in the gig economy.
OnLabor will continue to monitor coverage surrounding the election and gig economy workers.