James Farrar, a lead plaintiff in the successful UK labor rights case against Uber, is turning his sights to data protection, a critical worker issue in the 21st Century.

Photo credit: ADCU

In recent weeks, courts in multiple countries have delivered huge victories for gig workers by establishing the principle that these workers are, in fact, employed by digital platforms and are thus entitled to basic worker rights and protections.

The most stunning win was the UK Supreme Court’s recent scathing judgement against Uber. …


The new administration must use its power to crack down on exploitation of platform workers and reverse the erosion of decent work.

Photo credit: Labor Radio Network

The Biden-Harris administration is off to a great start for workers, with a progressive incoming labor team and immediate removal of Trump loyalists at places like the National Labor Relations Board. But are they ready to take on the 21st century’s most prominent challenge — the lawless digital economy?

As the Washington Post pointed out, tackling gig work may be the administration’s most explosive labor issue. President Biden took a stand during his campaign, opposing California’s pernicious Prop…


We have entered a new stage of capitalism. The global economy is no longer what connects our economic activity. It’s now the digital economy, where geographies cease to matter — at least to capital — as everything happens in cyberspace, on platforms.

In this William Gibson-esque world, work is being digitized, and workers are being dehumanized as a result. To understand and address labor exploitation in the digitized economy, we need to grasp the ways in which it both alters our labor relations and simply exacerbates longstanding problems.

The New Data Colonialism

A small handful of platform companies now dominate…


Bama Athreya of the Gig Podcast and Ben Wray of the Gig Economy Project report on the key take-aways from a recent international conference on decent work in the platform economy.

This series of articles concerning the Gig Economy in the EU was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Lipman-Miliband Trust


Blind Spots

The Trump Administration very recently issued an Executive Order (E.O.) protecting toxic workplace behavior. It’s not a surprise that a White House that has embodied misogyny, xenophobia and white nationalism would come up with such a directive. This E.O. is not just bad for the integrity of our federal government, it’s bad for all Americans. But it doesn’t seem to be written to stand the test of time and is unlikely to survive legal challenges. So why issue it now? I believe it is intended as a clear signal to public servants, on the eve of a tense election, that…


The fight over so-called “gig” work has come to a head in California. Lyft has even threatened to suspend all operations in the state. Why would the company even think of pulling out of such a lucrative market? This particular showdown is about who defines employment, and it has global implications for the future of work.

The fight started in 2018, when California’s highest court had the audacity to suggest that Lyft, Uber, and other platform companies abide by the nation’s employment laws. The companies refused to comply. So in 2019 California’s legislature passed a new law, Assembly Bill 5…


It’s been quite a week for Uber. The company is facing a slew of legal challenges around the world. While each case may appear to be unique to its particular situation, the accumulation of legal slings and arrows represents a much larger issue. Globally, Uber and other gig companies have been aggressively promoting a business model that is quite possibly incompatible with rule of law. If Uber wins in these cases we will need to confront the question: can a 21st century global economy survive and thrive without rule of law? …


On March 30 I published a piece titled A Feminist Stimulus. Even in its earlier stages the pandemic provided stark proof of the essential nature of care work. I imagined that this would be evident to increasing numbers of working people, families, and in turn, policy wonks. But the policy responses to the obvious looming crisis in care in virtually every country have been disappointing- until now. Fortunately former Vice President and presidential candidate Joe Biden has embraced the need to invest in the care economy. It’s a good plan and deserves praise. It also needs to be pushed further…


Boys on fishing platform, Indonesia

Thanks to a series of media and human rights reports, many of us are now aware that vast numbers of young men and boys are lured onto fishing boats and held in slavery at sea — sometimes for years without touching land. Attention to the dramatic extent of crimes at sea spiked a few years ago with incredible journalistic investigations by reporters at the Associated Press and The Guardian as well as by respected human rights organizations. Lately Ian Urbina of the New York Times has renewed attention to the problem with his book, The Outlaw Ocean. …


Our legal system is all but broken. Only collective power can fix it

Credit: Rideshare Drivers United

Last week, former VP Joe Biden came out in support of gig workers’ rights in an unexpected but timely tweet. Gig companies, led by Uber, Lyft and Doordash, had just won certification of their ballot initiative to overturn California’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB5). It was good to see immediate push-back from the likely Presidential nominee.

As a White House spokesperson called for “human capital stock” to work through a pandemic, Uber, Lyft and other gig companies launched their “Protect App Based Drivers and Services” campaign. While laying…

Bama Athreya

Expert on labor, gender equity and workplace social inclusion, labor migration and trafficking. Interested in the intersection of tech and social movements.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store