• Director Dispatches

Collaborate or collapse

Freelancers are building the sharing economy. Independent workers are providing the bulk the goods and services on the sharing economy platforms. Yet, we’re not “sharing” in the value being created -- it’s going to a small cadre of founders and venture capital investors.

The independent workers who are making these new sharing platforms succeed have virtually no say in how those companies are managed.

It’s time to change that, and I laid out the master plan today in an article in Fast Company:

“Freelancers are powering the sharing economy, but they’re not in the driver’s seat. It’s time for independent workers to take their rightful reins and steer this new marketplace in a more sustainable direction. That starts with applying the ethos of freelancing to solve the challenges of collaborative consumption.”

In other words, if the sharing economy goes no further than facilitating better consumption, freelancers will have missed a huge opportunity to control our future. We should be creating our own co-operative networks and social-purpose businesses.

“At the local level” is key here. Cities have the power to encourage these endeavors through local policies, like favorable zoning and regulations.

Like I wrote in Medium today in a letter to NYC’s new mayor, the key to a thriving local economy is listening to and helping this new workforce:

“Instead of trying to crack down on New Yorkers powering these revolutionary sharing platforms, the de Blasio administration should focus on empowering freelancers.”

I hope mayors all over the country are listening.

Sara Horowitz As the founder of Freelancers Union, Sara has been a voice for freelancers for over two decades.