How Can Online Platforms Prioritize Worker Interests?

Tim Davies talked about the idea of a network of co-ops who could refer clients and support each other. That tends not to be happening across the co-op sector as a whole. He remarked that there might be an interesting space for co-op to co-op cooperation. Tim is now working on a project to document co-ops in the UK. Steven mentions a group called Co-op metrics, coming out of the consumer co-operative world to unify and benchmark accounting across the co-operative world, to help each other learn from each other. He also mentions work by the Democracy of Work Institute.

At this point, I felt pretty demoralized. Thinking about all the fancy features within platform economy systems, I could think of very few of the competitive advantages of a platform that actually support workers-- ratings, dynamic labor allocation, and independent contracting all make a platform more efficient at the expense of workers. I put those concerns on the table and asked if anyone could meaningfully argue otherwise.

Mary argues that a platform could be designed to provide better support to the labor suppliers. That's a real missed opportunity, she says. Steven does believe that for the homecare industry, worker ownership is very antithetical to what platform infrastructure is often designed to achieve. That's why he would argue that in the end, that the platforms competing with PHI won't be able to control for quality. If someone entered the market with more of a relationship with employees and quality control -- and that would help you compete. If you offer any kind of training, the department of labor will come in and call them employees.

Read the full article at the MIT Center for Civic Media website


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