Steven Tufts (York University), Thorben Wieditz (Unifor Local 7575), and Andrea Henry (Unifor Local 7575)
Wednesday November 21st, 6:30-9:00pm, Worker’s Action Centre (2nd floor, room #202)
Whether it is called the collaborative, platform, crowd-sourcing, or ‘sharing’ economy, the rise of peer-to-peer exchanges raises important questions for workers and unions. Do emerging platforms such as Uber and AirBnB mark a significant shift in rent-seeking production and distribution systems? Are they emancipatory or exploitive? How can they be regulated across multiple jurisdictions and multiple platforms (e.g., AirBnB, Homestay, Uber, Lyft)? Despite the early success of these services with consumers, there are contradictions for the future of work. New digital platforms continue to erode traditional employment relationships and threaten unionized jobs in existing sectors. Short-term rentals facilitated by platforms such as AirBnB have created ‘ghost hotels’ that undermine rental housing markets and the traditional hotel sector and unionized jobs. Unions are only starting to address the implications – albeit in contradictory ways. The session of The Capitalism Workshop explores not only the impacts of platforms such as AirBnB on workers but also how unions are in the midst of a period of unilateral experimentation with how to address digital platforms ranging from cross-class alliances to broader coalition building as they struggle for effective municipal regulation.
Sara Mojtehedzadeh (2018, September 21st). Hotel workers fear condo conversions threatening jobs.
Steven Tufts (2017, November 17). Unions and the Gig Economy: The Case of Airbnb.
Fairbnb (2018) Reports
Ursula Huws (2017). A New Bill of Workers’ Rights for the 21st Century.
Andrea Henry, a member of Unifor 7575, has been a hotel worker activist for decades. She is a service express agent and shop steward at the Westin Prince Hotel in Toronto where she has worked for the last 28 years.
Steven Tufts is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at York University where is studies the geography of labour. He continues to work with and advocate for hospitality workers and is a supporter of Fairbnb.ca
Thorben Wieditz is a researcher with Unifor Local 7575. He works on municipal campaigns with a focus on land use and planning.