Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg (D) said on Monday that gig workers—like Uber drivers and those who delivery groceries for Instacart—should be allowed to unionize.
Speaking to the Recode Decode podcast, the South Bend, Indiana, mayor said that from a “labor perspective,” the country has to “recognize that gigs are jobs and people who have gigs are workers. And we don’t do that right now.”
When asked if gig workers should be allowed to unionize, Buttigieg said: “Yes. Yes. And it starts again with the understanding that they are, in fact, workers. Look, you can apply tests to figure out whether somebody really is a contractor or not, and if it looks, walks, quacks like an employee then you need to have those people.”
He also suggested that gig workers receive “the same benefits as if they were employees”—like sick days—if they are classified just as “contractors.”
“So I think there’s a problem with misclassifying workers as contractors, but I also want to erase some of the magic between whether you’re a contractor or worker in terms of whether you get any benefits,” he said. “If you drive seven hours for Uber, then seven divided by 40 is how much that ought to contribute to your sick leave bank. And we can set that up. We can set up a national sick leave bank or nationally administered state level sick leave banks just like we do for unemployment insurance, and it shouldn’t matter whether you’re a contractor and it shouldn’t matter whether you’re full time or part time.”
Buttigieg pointed out that “we’ve created these cliffs between full-time work and part-time work, between worker and contractor, that are distinctions without a difference in terms of what it’s like to be a worker, but have huge consequences in terms of your access to the benefits of being in the American economy.”
“And again, coming from a generation that’s going to be working more and more different jobs or gigs over the course of a week, let alone over the course of our lives, we can no longer have a system that rests on the assumption that you’re going to spend your life as a lifelong employee of a single employer that makes sense,” he said. “And fixing that, including making it possible also for gig workers to unionize, I think is going to be a really important part of how you get the economy.”