With the so-called “uberization” of work, any number of gig companies may be deserving of “the most scandalous” award. Perhaps the dubious honor should go to Uber itself which has sparked the imagination of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs the world over, inspiring them to use the guise of technology to transform traditional low-wage labor into even more low-paid, on-demand, unprotected, and unpredictable work. Maybe it should go to DoorDash which unabashedly uses the tips of customers to pay its workers. Or is Amazon Mechanical Turk the truly deserving entity? After all, as a “new kind of poorly paid hell,” mind-numbing Turk work sometimes pays only pennies per job.
Wonolo, short for “Work Now Locally,” is essentially a next-generation, blue-collar temp staffing agency that specializes in warehouse work (but also advertises to companies seeking temporary labor for delivery work, event staffing, janitorial services; etc.). The company has been touted in the media as giving workers a “choice” between employee and independent contractor status. This so-called choice, however, is misleading (at best). The choice of worker status, then, is not with the worker but with the third-party corporation.