Uber is at it again. The company is expanding its “on demand” model of precarious work to the temporary staffing business—an industry already notorious for exploitative labor practices. Through its new app Uber Works, which the company launched last month in Chicago, Uber aims to arrange temporary shifts in jobs like bartending, warehouse work, and commercial cleaning. Uber will partner with temporary staffing agencies like TrueBlue, which will employ and pay the workers who obtain assignments through the app.
Uber is no stranger to outsourcing. Instead of employing its drivers directly, Uber calls them independent contractors, even though Uber controls nearly all aspects of its drivers’ work, including which customers a driver picks up, the route taken to destinations, and the rate for each ride. Unlike the traditional independent contractor—who is making financial investments to sustain and grow her business, negotiating prices with clients, and building a client base—Uber drivers are not, by any stretch of the imagination, in business for themselves. In response to Uber and other companies’ increasing reliance on workers classified as independent contractors, California recently passed a law that establishes a clearer and stricter test for who should be considered an employee.