Seattle law Judge Lasnik placed a temporary restraining order on a law that prevents these companies from exploiting their workers as “individual contractors,” rather than employees who have the right to form a union.
The American obsession with self-reliance, which makes it more acceptable to applaud an individual for working oneself to death than to argue that an individual working her/himself to death is evidence of a flawed economic system. The contrast between the gig economy’s rhetoric (everyone is always connecting, having fun, and killing it!) and the conditions that allow it to exist (a lack of dependable employment that pays a living wage) makes this kink especially clear.
Japanese unions worked together to protest, lobby and organize and keep Uber out of Tokyo. They know Uber will continue to fight, so the battle is not over, but this example shows that unions can challenge the company and win.